Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly plans on distributing a treatment for coronavirus patients this week. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just gave it the green light.
The antibody treatment is for patients over the age of 65 who have mild to moderate symptoms. Patients who are 12 years and up are also eligible if they have an underlying health condition.
The FDA approval comes at a time when cases are going up again and hospitals are struggling to treat so many patients.
Infectious disease experts say one of the biggest challenges for hospitals right now is to figure out where they want to administer the treatment.
It is given through an IV and usually, IV treatments are given in an outpatient setting to cancer patients.
“If you're talking about hospitals that have infusion centers for cancer and chemotherapy, that's not generally a place where they're going to feel comfortable taking COVID-19 patients in the contagious phase of their disease, because they also have highly immuno-compromised patients there,” said Dr. Shira Doron, a hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center.
Some hospitals in the U.S. already have the resources and space to administer the treatment to COVID-19 patients, but many still don't.
Another option would be to administer it in an emergency room, while still following the same criteria for who receives it.
While there are guidelines for who receives it, cases are rising. That could add another limitation to how many patients get the new antibody treatment.
“And then how will patients be referred to that facility? Will doctors know about that? And defining exactly which patients will benefit from this is somewhat still up in the air,” said Doron.
Health and Human Services will be responsible for distributing the treatment. It will focus on states where hospitalizations and overall cases are high.