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Des Moines doctors say demand for monoclonal antibodies outpaces supply

This week, Iowa received 384 doses of the treatment to allocate to hospitals across the state.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines health systems are struggling with a shortage of monoclonal antibody treatments after the FDA revoked emergency authorization for treatments made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, stating they are not effective against the omicron variant. 

This week, the state received 384 doses of the remaining approved monoclonal antibody, Sotrovimab, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

"Unfortunately, we're receiving it in such small supplies that what we receive for a week is only a fraction of the cases we are diagnosing each day," said Broadlawns Medical Center Dr. Nicole Gilg Gachiani. "What the state has received for the following week would be less than a fourth of what yesterday's case count total was."

Local health systems say when they do receive a shipment, it goes quick. With demand high, some have been forced to go without for a period of time. 

"I don't want to paint a terrible picture, but we've been out of monoclonal for a couple of weeks," said MercyOne Dr. Jeff Brock. "We've not had any available for our patients."

When hospitals do receive shipments of the treatment, they use a tiered approach to decide who gets it based on risk level.

"So people with compromised immune systems, either through a disease process or medications, as well as unvaccinated patients who are at the highest risk of disease progression," Brock said.

While the antibody supply is low, doctors stress the vaccine supply is ample. 

"We focus on the vaccine because we don't want anybody to get sick, but also because we have a good supply of it," Gilg Gachiani said. "And we know that we can give it to patients when they need it."

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