Press release from Pardee UNC Health Care
In response to diminishing supply and ongoing demand for the highly effective monoclonal antibody treatment, Pardee UNC Health Care announced today that it is adjusting patient eligibility criteria. In order to manage supply and continue to serve the community, Pardee will only accept referrals to the clinic for COVID-positive patients who are within 5 days of onset of their symptoms, rather than accepting patients within 10 days of onset of their symptoms.
In addition, Pardee will utilize both REGEN-CoV and bamlanivimab and etesevimab (BAM/ETE) combination monoclonal antibody infusions depending on supply allocated from the state and federal government. Like REGEN-CoV, BAM/ETE received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for treatment of COVID-19 infection, with similar clinical criteria required. BAM/ETE has also proven effective against the Delta variant still causing the vast majority of COVID-19 infections in the region; Pardee has been using BAM/ETE for COVID-19 treatment since December 2020. As with REGEN-CoV, BAM/ETE has proven to reduce risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infection.
“What we’re facing at the moment is a supply issue that simply cannot match the demand for this highly effective treatment,” said Carol Stefaniak, RN, chief nursing officer for Pardee UNC Health Care. “With the distribution of REGEN-CoV now being managed at the state and federal level, we’re experiencing a reduction in supply. Thankfully, we have adequate supply of BAM/ETE in stock and anticipate receiving additional doses in the near future.” Stefaniak adds that both treatments are effective for treating COVID-19 patients who meet the criteria, but implores the community to no longer wait to get vaccinated or wait to seek treatment if they become ill. “Vaccinations remain the optimal choice for anyone who wishes to avoid serious illness as a result of COVID-19. However, if you do become ill as a result of COVID-19 and wish to receive treatment, it is important to seek treatment early.”
Hospital officials also note that while the state may be experiencing a decline in hospitalizations for COVID-19, Pardee seems to be holding steady and not experiencing a consistent decline at this time. “Given that our community is still experiencing the effects of the Delta variant, and we have been very successful in reducing the number of serious infections and hospitalizations in the community, the demand for monoclonal antibody treatment has grown exponentially in recent weeks,” said Dr. Chris Parsons, Medical Director for Pardee’s Center for Infectious Diseases. “We’re at a point where we must adjust criteria in order to manage our supplies and continue to serve our community and our highest risk patients effectively.” Parsons notes that while he hopes supplies of these medications will improve, additional restrictions in criteria may have to be implemented if they worsen.
“We work closely with our colleagues at UNC Health, as well as other colleagues in the region, to review available data and devise acceptable criteria for these infusions based on medical risk and how these drugs work,” said Parsons. “Hopefully we will not have to restrict their use further, although this will depend on the supply of the drugs as well as the number of cases in the region.” Parsons encourages individuals to get vaccinated if they are not already, continue to wear a mask and avoid contact with those who have symptoms. He notes that these measures will “ultimately help Pardee maintain an adequate supply of these medications for those who need them the most.”
In order to be scheduled for the outpatient monoclonal antibody infusion, patients must have 1) a positive COVID test and 2) a referral from a Pardee Urgent Care or primary care provider. The eligibility criteria for the infusion are very specific and must be verified prior to the referral. For questions about these treatments, or to find out more about eligibility, community members may call 828-694-8222.
Pardee UNC Health Care is a not-for-profit community hospital founded in 1953 and is managed by UNC Health Care. The hospital is licensed for 222 acute care beds. Pardee has several locations separate from the main campus, including a comprehensive physician practice network, a cancer center, four urgent care locations and six orthopedic clinics. For more information or to find a physician, visit www.pardeehospital.org.