They had to do all this over the holidays. During an epidemic.
“It’s a big effort on the part of a lot of people,” said Scott Macaulay, executive director of pharmacy for Piedmont, who had to figure out how to create a Kovid-19 monoclonal antibody treatment program.
Studies suggest that these treatments may prevent high-risk Kovid-19 patients from developing severe symptoms., So far, health officials say that the available treatment has not been adequately utilized.
Giving this treatment to someone is not as easy as swallowing a pill. Because they are contagious, patients undergoing this treatment need to be distinguished from others. A nurse in full protective gear requires treatment for approximately one hour and then monitoring the patient for another.
“It prevents hospitalization, but its logistics is challenging and certainly staff has its own conflict with nurses in our current national health crisis.”
Piedmont’s program now treats about 250 Kovid-19 patients a week, but nationwide, health officials have said that the treatments in the months in which they are available have not been used nearly enough.
In Michigan, for example, less than 10% of the available Covid-19 monoclonal antibody treatments have been used, with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services medical director Drs. William Fales said during a news briefing last week.
California health officials told CNN that facilities in their state administered 8% of the monoclonal antibody stock on hand during the week of January 13.
But as the Biden administration devises its own national strategy to control the epidemic, it is not clear exactly how many of the delivered antibody therapies have actually treated patients, or where. That information is not posted on the HHS website or tracked on the state dashboard.
HHS told CNN in early January that the average use of antibody therapy was 25%. Eli Lilly said Wednesday that according to Operation War Speed shared with the company last week, the use of both authorized antibody therapies in the United States increased by 39%.
Adams said, “We need to ask your provider about monoclonal antibodies.”
“Medicines, these medical practices are not being used as much as I, or task force doctors or HHS specialists, career specialists, who feel they should be. I want to remind everyone that We are not helpless. In our crusade against the virus. “
Aggressive public outreach is underway
A spokesperson for Eli Lilly, Molly McCully, said in an email that the company was seeing “steady improvement in usage during the week”. He said that the company is partnering with the government to raise awareness about treatment.
Alexandra Bowie, a Regeneron spokesperson, said the company recognized that “patients have the challenges of the last 10 yards in terms of handling antibodies easily.”
Bowie said in an email, “Our team has worked very hard to develop and test this drug in record time, and obviously we want to reach it to more and more patients.”
“Given the antibody rollout with an increase in viruses in most states, it is quite difficult for healthcare providers / centers,” Bowie said. “But we are calling every day with government leaders who are responding to the patient / physician response and working to ensure that more Americans have access to these drugs.”
Regeneron said it is trying to educate providers and raise awareness through social media.
Education starts working. For example, North Dakota said it, too, is trying to help physicians and the public get the word out. It also mentions some contract trailers when they arrive to tell people that they are in contact with someone with the Kovid-19.
North Dakota International Association Vice President Dr. Joshua Ranam said, “Initially there was a lot of doubt with these drugs.” “Now there has been very aggressive public outreach. I have seen a lot of patient awareness and acceptance and we have seen some very dramatic results with efficacy.”
According to North Dakota public information officer Heather Steinle, the use of monoclonal antibody treatment was “low”, it is steadily increasing. He said that during the first six weeks, on an average 650 weeks now the use of treatments has increased from 450.
And it has helped. Stafel said the state has seen “success” with decreasing number of treatments and hospitals.
‘Now there’s something they can really do to help’
One health care system that has adopted therapies is South Dakota-based Sanford Health, which manages 46 hospitals and 200 senior care locations in 26 states.
Sanford said it has treated more than 1,400 patients with both Lilly and Regeneron antibody therapy.
“Don’t get me wrong, there was a bit of construction to do,” Dr. Jerme Cowells, who was Sanford’s chief physician. “But quite honestly, when we saw that this is something that is going to help us in the worst of the crisis, we said ‘Let’s see how fast we can set this up.” “
Coffles said Sanford’s electronic record system was an important key to the program’s success. It is now set to flag it automatically when someone tests positive for Kovid-19. The system notifies a group that determines that the patient is eligible for treatment and if they are, Sanford asks them to bring them to the clinic as soon as possible.
Cowell said the treatments have already prevented at least 40 hospitalizations, multiple deaths and “hospital days of more than a year.”
“It’s just a few months to do it,” Cowell said.
Nurse Dena Ollis, director of women’s services who helped set up the program at the Piedmont Athens Regional in Georgia, said that monoclonal antibody treatments have led to something that staff and patients have not seen much during the epidemic.
“We were very concerned about setting it up, but once we got it up and running, it was very rewarding to get so much appreciation from the patients,” Ollis said. “And the staff, they are feeling very hopeful that there is now something they can really do to help the patient and hopefully prevent the disease process from getting so bad.”
Jacqueline Howard of CNN contributed to this report.