Vials of monoclonal antibody therapy treatments
Credit: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images Plus

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities must be prioritized by the federal government for access to popular monoclonal antibody therapy to treat COVID-19, industry stakeholders are urging. Their demands come after a change in policy dramatically decreased distribution to providers.

“There are people dying in nursing homes right now, and we don’t know whether or not they could have been saved, but they didn’t have access to the product,” Chad Worz, CEO of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, told Kaiser Health News this week.

Worz, along with several industry advocates, in recent weeks have detailed how long-term care sites are “scrambling” to find doses of the antibody therapy treatment in the wake of federally imposed limits.

The use of the treatments skyrocketed with the surge of the delta variant, and doses delivered to nursing homes increased from 3,2000 to 6,700 from August to September, according to the report. Southern states also accounted for 70% of total shipments. 

That changed after HHS barred individual sites from placing direct orders of antibody therapy treatments and instead based allocation on case rates and hospitalizations. The agency said it was “absolutely necessary to make this change to ensure a consistent product for all areas of the country,” according to KHN. 

However, providers have warned that states have been sending most of their monoclonal antibody treatments to hospitals and acute-care centers — and not nursing homes. 

“We need federal and state public health officials to readjust their priorities and focus on our seniors,” the American Health Care Association told KHN.