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Florida Begins Buying Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Doses Directly

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) -- Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that the state has begun purchasing doses of a monoclonal antibody treatment directly from the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, after the federal government last week took control of distribution of the COVID-19 treatments produced by other companies.

DeSantis said the first purchase was for 3,000 doses of the drug sotrovimab, which was given emergency-use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May.

The governor said last week that he would pursue a direct-purchasing agreement with GlaxoSmithKline, as the state is unable to directly buy doses of Regeneron's monoclonal antibody treatment.

Monoclonal antibodies are man-made proteins that act like human antibodies in the immune system. The treatment provides a temporary, but immediate boost to the immune system which can help reduce chances that a patient will develop serious complications.

DeSantis in recent months has touted the Regeneron treatment as being effective for patients with COVID-19 symptoms and set up 25 sites to administer it.

The Regeneron treatment is purchased exclusively by the federal government. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Sept. 13 announced that it "transitioned from a direct ordering process to a state/territory-coordinated distribution system" and will decide the apportionment of treatments that states receive.

"To put it in perspective, the most recent shipment that we're scheduled to receive for the entire state of Florida is a little less than 18,000 doses of Regeneron. Our state sites just a few weeks ago were doing well over 30,000 doses just in our sites, that doesn't even include any of the hospitals," DeSantis said Thursday during a news conference in Tampa.

Meanwhile, DeSantis said the future of some state-run monoclonal antibody sites may be in jeopardy.

"We may have to be making decisions soon about how many of the sites can remain open. We're making decisions about how many doses each hospital is going to get. And these are not decisions we should be having to make," DeSantis said.

(©2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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