Monoclonal Clinics Close in Sarasota-Manatee Region

Health + Wellness

Sarasota Memorial Hospital last week closed down an outpatient clinic offering monoclonal antibodies treatment. The Manatee County Department of Health last week did the same. The means anyone seeking early COVID-19 treatment by way of these therapies must travel north to Tampa Bay or south to Englewood to find it.

The reason is a national supply chain shortage and reduced distribution by the federal government, according to health officials in the region.

“There is not enough supply left to maintain a clinic,” said Kim Savage, public relations manager for Sarasota Memorial Health Care System.

She noted hospitals previously had the ability to purchase their own supplies of antibodies treatment from manufacturers. But the delta variant of the coronavirus causing COVID-19 surged earlier this year, the federal government started rationing supplies to states, which controls disbursement to hospitals.

A state Department of Health online listing now shows no clinics in Sarasota or Manatee counties. A DOH-run clinic remains open at the Tringali Community Center in Charlotte County. Other state-run clinics to the north include one at the West Tampa Service Center in Hillsborough County and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Pinellas County. Tampa General Hospital, the first hospital in Florida to offer the treatments, is also still listed as a provider.

The availability of supplies for MAB has remained a point of friction between Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration and the federal administration under President Joe Biden. This week, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra complaining about the lack of supplies.

“The federal government is actively preventing the effective distribution of monoclocal antibody treatments in the U.S.” Ladapo wrote. “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.”

Hospitals notably say it’s a shortage of one type of treatment, Sotrovimab, that has proven problematic. That’s because that brand of MAB is the only one that has proven to be effective regarding the omicron variant, which has become the predominant virus variant in the U.S.

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