BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – A former state lawmaker is calling on current leaders to step up and do more to make monoclonal antibody treatments more accessible for Alabamians.
In an op-ed, Paul DeMarco said making the state health department place all orders is creating an unnecessary hurdle to get the treatment timely those in need.
This is a treatment that has impacted him personally. DeMarco said his brother and other close friends have seen lifesaving results from the monoclonal antibody treatment. But, with a limitation on distribution and the state not getting all its request, he said current leaders need to take more action.
“This is a very important issue that can’t wait another week,” DeMarco said. “We’re in the middle of this surge and they’re going to limit it.”
This comes now over a week since Alabama found out it would only get 70 percent of its monoclonal antibodies request.
“Whether folks are vaccinated or unvaccinated doesn’t matter,” DeMarco said. “If we’ve got a treatment that is effective in keeping people out of the hospital, we need to be pushing that forward and we do not need to stand for there being any sort of hurdles in getting these treatments, drugs, medications to those patients in Alabama that need it.”
We asked Governor Kay Ivey about it Tuesday. She said it’s still necessary to push for the vaccine.
“While that’s an important treatment for some we want to maintain accessibility,” Ivey said. “Despite the challenges before us I can’t help but think that we’re in a much better position now than we were a year ago.”
State Senator Rodger Smitherman said we need to up production of the treatment and establish priorities with any COVID funding to keep Alabamians safe.
“I think we need to make it available to as many citizens as possible,” Smitherman said. “We’re going to make sure that we continue to try to provide what the citizens need to stay protected and be able to resume the resemblance of a normal life.”
DeMarco said he is hopeful Alabama can order directly from manufacturers to get out of this pandemic web.
“I know how effective it is for those that do test positive for COVID,” DeMarco said. “This would be a perfect way to use those dollars to purchase those treatments that are not being provided by the federal government and use those to help our patients here in Alabama.”
According to DeMarco there are millions in unused COVID grants to pay manufacturers directly instead of everyone ordering from the health department.
Smitherman said during the upcoming special session, lawmakers will be addressing other issues like this in addition to prisons.