Monoclonal antibody therapy is available in Richmond and showing signs of success for COVID patients

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Monoclonal antibody treatments are now available in Richmond and are helping keep COVID-19 patients out of the hospital.

Monoclonal antibodies are lab-made proteins that mimic the immune system. The Amber Specialty Pharmacy on West Broad Street shows is now administering three different monoclonal antibodies –Sotrovimab, Regeneron’s REGEN-COV and Lilly’s bamlanivimab plus etesevimab. All three have received the FDA’s emergency use authorization, or EUA, for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients.

Willam Groben, Director of Infusion Pharmacy at Amber Specialty, said the antibodies are
dispensed through an IV by a nurse in the patient’s home.

Regeneron’s REGEN-COV is a treatment that uses Mococlonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are lab-made proteins that mimic the immune system. (Photo: Forrest Shelor)

“The drug is administered over 30 minutes,” said Groben.

The antibodies attach to the spike protein of the virus and stop the virus from entering the host cells.

“So right now our options to treat COVID in the outpatient setting are very limited, this is what we have in the toolbox,” said Dr. Michael Stevens, Interim Hospital Epidemiologist at VCU Health.

Dr. Stevens said the therapy is best for high-risk patients in the early stages of COVID. That includes those who are obese, have diabetes or chronic respiratory conditions. Pregnant women are also good candidates for the treatment.

“There’s some good data suggesting that people don’t get as sick,” said Stevens.

Amber specialty pharmacy is seeing great success with it.

“We handle several hundred patients a week,” Groben said. “The results of the administration of the monoclonal is kind of amazing. We’ve had over 90% success rate keeping people out of the hospital.”

Groben said the pharmacy is dispensing the antibodies at 19 different locations around the country and he says it’s been hard to keep up with the demand.

VCU Health is also providing antibody infusions. Most insurers are covering the antibody treatment. For those without insurance, there is assistance from CMS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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