Florida Surgeon General accuses Biden admin of withholding monoclonal antibody treatments

Monoclonal antibody treatments have emerged as a generally effective therapeutic treatment against COVID-19 infections and have been embraced by some states, such as Florida, as a valuable tool to help prevent and reduce hospitalizations from the viral pandemic.

Yet, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Lapado on Tuesday accused President Joe Biden’s administration of deliberately withholding shipments of the desperately needed drugs to his state, a move that could potentially prove fatal for some Floridians, National Review reported.

The purported reason for the administration’s lack of distribution of the treatments is new studies that suggest it is not as effective against the new omicron variant, but Florida countered that by noting that a significant percentage of its case is of the older virus variants, such as delta, against which monoclonal antibodies work quite well.

What’s happening?

On Tuesday, Lapado sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra that first noted the success Florida has experienced in terms of both vaccines administered as well as with monoclonal antibody treatments in fighting infections but lamented a sudden decline in the amount of those treatments being distributed by the federal government, according to CBS12.

He went on to accuse the Biden administration of “actively preventing the effective distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments” across the U.S., and particularly in Florida, and argued that the “sudden suspension” of multiple versions of the treatment was limiting the ability of healthcare providers to give their patients the best and most options available.

“This shortsightedness is especially evident given that the federal government effectively prohibited states from purchasing these monoclonal antibodies and serving their populations directly,” Lapado continued.

“Florida is a large, diverse state with one of the highest percentages of seniors in the U.S., and we must empower healthcare providers to make decisions that will save the lives of Americans everywhere without the dictates imposed by the federal government,” Lapado wrote.

“President Biden recently stated there is no federal solution to COVID-19, and solving this pandemic will happen at the state level,” he concluded. “Therefore, as Surgeon General, I respectfully request that you allow states and healthcare practitioners to provide treatment options that best benefit the communities they know and serve.”

“There is no federal solution”

That last line from Florida SG Lapado was in reference to remarks made Monday by President Biden during a conference call with the National Governors Association (NGA) to discuss the pandemic, during which NGA Chair and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) had politely cautioned Biden against interfering in state efforts to combat the virus with one-size-fits-all federal solutions.

“Look, there is no federal solution. This gets solved at a state level,” Biden replied with regard to COVID-19. He later told the governors, “If you need something, say something — and we — we’re going to have your back in any way we can.”

Well, Florida needs more monoclonal antibody treatments and has said as much, so if Biden was sincere about backing state-level efforts to fight the pandemic, then he will presumably not play politics with people’s lives and ensure that Florida is allotted an ample supply of the therapeutics it desires.

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