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DeSantis says he will fight the FDA's 'reckless decision' to stop monoclonal antibody treatments

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses a joint session of a legislative session, Jan. 11, 2022, in Tallahassee.  DeSantis has vowed, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, to fight a decision from federal health regulators to block two coronavirus antibody treatments after the drugs were found to be ineffective against treating the widespread omicron variant.
Phelan M. Ebenhack
/
AP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses a joint session of a legislative session, Jan. 11, 2022, in Tallahassee. DeSantis has vowed, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, to fight a decision from federal health regulators to block two coronavirus antibody treatments after the drugs were found to be ineffective against treating the widespread omicron variant.

While the governor said the treatments are "not 100%," he added that they should still be made available.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he will fight the "reckless decision" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to revoke emergency authorization of two monoclonal antibody treatments.

The FDA's announcement late Monday meant Florida had to immediately shut down monoclonal antibody treatment sites across the state.

Speaking at a news conference in Crawfordville on Tuesday, DeSantis said he will fight the decision after the FDA said the drugs — made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly — did not work against the omicron variant.

"We're gonna fight back against this because this is just wrong," DeSantis said. "This is not the way that you help people. And our view is, people have the right to access these treatments, and to revoke it on this basis, it's just fundamentally wrong, and we're going to fight back."

After the FDA announced it revoked the emergency use authorization, the sites administering the treatments were closed, and those who had already made appointments were told they were being canceled, the Florida Department of Health said in a release.

DeSantis, along with state Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, have said the treatments should be easily accessible for people who get infected with other variants.

While DeSantis said the treatments are "not 100%," he said they should still be made available.

"You don't even know when someone goes in, whether it's omicron or still the delta," DeSantis said. "Yes, mostly in Florida it's going to be omicron at this point. But it's really a reckless decision to be able to take this option away from patients."

Monclonal antibody therapieshad become a centerpiece of DeSantis’ coronavirus response as he resisted vaccine mandates and other safety measures.

DeSantis did say how he plans to oppose to the FDA decision.

A third monoclonal antibody treatment, GlaxoSmithKline's sotrovimab, remains authorized and appears to work against omicron. However, it is in short supply.

Some county-run sites that offer sotrovimab remain open, Seminole County Emergency Manager Alan Harris told WMFE. Check with local health departments for availability. Also,symptomatic patients with underlying risk factors should check with local hospitals to see if they have that treatment.
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Information from Health News Florida producer Rick Mayer and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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Carl Lisciandrello is digital news editor of WUSF Public Media.