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Florida's Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Sites Shut Down Following FDA Decision

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - If you planned on receiving  monoclonal antibody treatment in Florida, your wait just got longer. The Florida Department of Health closed all monoclonal antibody treatment sites Tuesday following a decision by the Food and Drug Administration to revoke emergency authorization.

"The FDA's job is specifically to prevent drugs from being used in instances where they don't work," said Dr. Jill Roberts, Environmental Health at the University of South Florida.

According to the FDA, "Because data show these treatments are highly unlikely to be active against the Omicron variant, which is circulating at a very high frequency throughout the United States, these treatments are not authorized for use in any U.S. states, territories, and jurisdictions at this time."

In a statement Monday, the Florida Department of Health responded saying "Florida disagrees with the decision that blocks access to any available treatments in the absence of clinical evidence. To date, such clinical evidence has not been provided by the united states FDA."

When the Delta variant hit the U.S., the monoclonal antibodies were effective in reducing the number of serious cases. But since the treatments aren't proving effective against Omicron, local health officials say closing down the monoclonal antibody sites across Florida was a smart move considering the risks.

"The reality is, if you went to get a monoclonal antibody treatment, you run the risk of having the side effect from the monoclonal antibody for a drug that doesn't work," said Dr. Roberts.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis disapproved of the move after he says more than 2,000 appointments were cancelled.

"Without a shred of clinical data to support its decision, the Biden Administration has revoked the emergency use authorization for lifesaving monoclonal antibody treatments," he said via twitter Tuesday.

"From a scientific point of view, closing down the sites was a good idea because they were offering false hope," said Dr. Roberts. She says it made sense to take a step back and redirect efforts into finding treatments that do work against omicron. "We don't want to send people down a clinical road that isn't going to help them."

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