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Ladapo writes that the feds' decision to limit antibody treatments is 'shortsighted' and 'life-threatening'

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Chris O'Meara
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Dr. Joseph Ladapo wrote that federal agencies should not be controlling COVID options. He asked that Florida be able to pursue unlimited acquisition of any treatment.

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo has written a letter accusing the Biden administration of “actively preventing the effective distribution” of monoclonal antibody COVID treatments made by two pharmaceutical companies.

The “shortsighted” decision has created an "immediate and life-threatening shortage of treatment options” to the state, he wrote in the letter sent Tuesday to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

“The sudden suspension of multiple monoclonal antibody therapy treatments from distribution to Florida removes a health care provider's ability to decide the best treatment options for their patients in this state,” Ladapo wrote in the letter, which he posted on his Twitter account.

Ladapo wrote that federal agencies should not be controlling or limiting options to combat COVID. He asked Becerra to allow Florida to pursue unlimited acquisition of any treatment.

The Food and Drug Administration has paused shipments on antibody treatments made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly because the drugs have not been proven to be effective against the new omicron variant.

The administration said it would increase the supply of sotrovimab, made by Glaxosmithkline, citing data showing it is more effective against omicron. After pausing distribution last month to conserve supply, it has been in short supply in the U.S.

On Tuesday, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionshowed that while omicron remains the dominant variant, the more dangerous delta is still a driving force behind the current COVID surge. The CDC estimated that omicron made up only 59 percent of cases in the country.

Ladapo wrote that Florida still needs shipments of the Regeneron and Eli Lilly treatments to be used against the delta variant. About 20% of Florida’s cases are delta, according to the state Department of Health.

"The federal agencies under your control should not limit our state's access to any available treatment for COVID-19," Ladapo wrote. "Florida can expand treatment options for patients by distributing therapeutics to providers working in areas with a low prevalence of omicron or clinics capable of variant screening."

The letter alludes to President Joe Biden’s comments Monday that “there is no federal solution” to control of the pandemic and that “this gets solved at the state level.”

“I respectfully request that you allow states and health care practitioners to provide treatment options that best benefit the communities they know and serve,” the surgeon general wrote.

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.