Ron DeSantis pressures Biden admin to let states purchase monoclonal antibody treatments

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Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., called for the Biden administration to allow his state to obtain more monoclonal antibody treatments as it encounters the omicron variant of COVID-19.

“We’re past the point now where we’re able to get it directly from any of these companies,” DeSantis said during a press conference on Monday.

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“The federal government has cornered the entire market. They basically took control of the supply in September.”

DeSantis noted that the administration had stopped sending both Regeneron and Eli Lily monoclonal antibody treatments. The department later said it would allow states to order those products from HHS.

The governor’s press conference came nearly a week after his surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, sent U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra a letter requesting the federal government restore distribution of monoclonal antibodies treatments to the state.

State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo speaks during a press conference at Neo City Academy in Kissimmee, Florida. A day after being appointed, Ladapo instituted his first rule giving parents "sole discretion" over whether their child wears a mask at school, and also allowing students who come in contact with the coronavirus to continue attending class if they remain asymptomatic. (Photo by Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo speaks during a press conference at Neo City Academy in Kissimmee, Florida. A day after being appointed, Ladapo instituted his first rule giving parents “sole discretion” over whether their child wears a mask at school, and also allowing students who come in contact with the coronavirus to continue attending class if they remain asymptomatic. (Photo by Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images) (Photo by Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

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“The federal government is actively preventing the effective distribution of monoclonal 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.”

As Ladapo’s letter noted, HHS said in September that it would determine state-by-state distribution of certain drugs. An official reportedly said the move would “help maintain equitable distribution, both geographically and temporally, across the country.”

FILE PHOTO: A vial of Regeneron monoclonal antibody sits on a medical table as registered nurse Jessica Krumwiede attempts to find a vein to administer it to Cathy Hardin, who was vaccinated prior to testing positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Sarasota Memorial Urgent Care Center in Sarasota, Florida, U.S., September 23, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

FILE PHOTO: A vial of Regeneron monoclonal antibody sits on a medical table as registered nurse Jessica Krumwiede attempts to find a vein to administer it to Cathy Hardin, who was vaccinated prior to testing positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Sarasota Memorial Urgent Care Center in Sarasota, Florida, U.S., September 23, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (Shannon Stapleton)

Monday’s press conference comes as both Florida and New York saw a record jump in COVID-19 cases. 

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 75,900 new cases of COVID-19 in Florida.

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That tally raised the 7-day average daily to 42,600, which is twice as high as it was at the peak of this summer’s surge when the delta variant fueled a surge of infections in the state.

The White House referred Fox News to HHS, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Like DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asked Biden for help with monoclonal anti-body treatments. “Testing sites, additional medical staff, and continued shipments of therapeutics from the federal government will help us continue to save lives and mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said.

FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

FILE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Last week, HHS touted the administration’s progress in bringing two new over-the-counter COVID-19 tests to market – which is part of a broader effort by the administration to increase access to testing.

Biden has come under fire for saying there was no federal solution to the pandemic despite pushing multiple initiatives from the executive branch. In December, the White House touted its deployment of federal personnel to help dozens of states.

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“To date, we have deployed over 2,000 personnel, including 1,300 clinical providers; surged over 3,200 ventilators, ambulances and other critical supplies; and shipped over 2.3 million courses of lifesaving monoclonal antibody treatment,” the White House said on Dec. 2

“As we face the potential of a new variant and rising cases during the winter months, today, the President will make clear that federal government will once again be prepared to help.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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