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Gov. Ron DeSantis seeks to circumvent federal government, buy monoclonals from drugmaker

'We're going to work like hell,' governor says
Posted at 7:02 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 17:15:17-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida's governor isn't happy that the Biden administration is now taking over monoclonal antibody distribution.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he's worried the state won't get enough.

"There's going to be a huge disruption and patients are going to suffer as a result of this," DeSantis said. "We’re going to work like hell to overcome the obstacles HHS and the Biden Administration are putting on us."

DeSantis has made monoclonals a keystone in his fight against the latest COVID-19 surge. If given early enough, a sick person's chances of going to the hospital drop by 75 percent.

But, supply is limited which is why Health and Human Services said earlier this week is was making the change, no longer allowing hospitals and treatment sites to order the early COVID-19 therapies directly.

Instead, HHS is returning to a pre-vaccine posture. The officials there will analyze the need and send shipments to states to divide up.

"HHS will determine the amount of product each state and territory receives on a weekly basis," said HHS National Press Secretary for COVID Response Kirsten Allen in a statement. "State and territorial health departments will subsequently identify sites that will receive product and how much. This system will help maintain equitable distribution, both geographically and temporally, across the country - providing states and territories with consistent, fairly distributed supply over the coming weeks."

DeSantis called the change a raw deal and vowed to work directly with drug company GlaxoSmithKline to circumvent federal officials by purchasing its monoclonal treatment, Sotrovimab.

"The federal government has bought all the Regeneron," DeSantis said. "We are not able to buy it directly from Regeneron given that. We do think we can order some Sotrovimab and we will do that if we can."

The governor has opened 25 monoclonal sites in the Sunshine State. His office has said Florida needs about 72,000 doses weekly to meet demand. This week's allotment is less than half that -- about 31,000.

Florida monoclonal antibody use among other states
Florida is among seven states accounting for the majority of recent monoclonal orders.

The White House is defending the change. Officials said it would ensure fairness for every state as Florida is among seven states that have accounted for 70 perecent of recent monoclonal orders.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the monoclonal concerns during her regular briefing.

"Our supply is not unlimited, and we believe it should be equitable," she said. "Our role as the government overseeing the entire country is to be equitable on how we distribute. We're not going to give a greater percentage to Florida over Oklahoma."

Beyond that -- critics have also said DeSantis needs to stop treating monoclonals like front-line protection.

Some state lawmakers and physicians continue urging the governor to put more emphasis on virus mitigation and vaccines. They also prevent hospitalization and are in abundance across the nation.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering