DeSantis vs. Biden in Fla. contractor’s text messages canceling monoclonal treatments?

·3 min read
MATIAS J. OCNER/mocner@miamiherald.com

When a state contractor sent text messages to Miami-Dade residents canceling their appointments for monoclonal COVID-19 treatments this week, the announcements noted “the Biden administration has removed the ability of any state” to administer the drugs.

On Tuesday, Miami-Dade’s mayor called the message “deeply disturbing” for not explaining the scientific reason behind the decision at a time when Gov. Ron DeSantis is linking the FDA action to “the whims of a floundering president.”

Levine Cava criticizes CDR Maguire texts on FDA monoclonal decision

In a letter to CDR Maguire President Carlos Duart, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said of the recent text messages canceling local monoclonal appointments: “The messages our residents received from your team are deeply concerning since they seem motivated by political interests and not acting in our community’s best interests.”

The letter expands the conflict over the FDA’s recent decision to halt monoclonal treatments, based on the antibodies not being effective for the omicron variant that now makes up almost all cases of COVID-19 across the country.

Levine Cava, a Democrat, has criticized DeSantis for not aggressively encouraging Florida residents to get vaccinated in recent months while centering his attention on COVID treatments for people who contract the virus.

CDR Maguire operates state monoclonal sites at Miami Dade College North and Tropical Park, locations that also have county vaccination and testing operations.

Levine Cava’s office said it received a notice from the firm that it was canceling treatment appointments this week, and that the notice included the text message being sent to Miami-Dade residents who had signed up for the slots.

‘Please contact the FDA’

That message read, according to the mayor’s office: “The Biden Administration has removed the ability for any state to administer Regeneron’s REGEN-COV or Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab and etesevimab.

“As a result, your appointment has been cancelled. If you want to know why this decision was made, please contact the U.S. FDA at 1-888-463-6332 or contact your health care provider for more information on COVID-19 treatment options.”

The pharmaceutical companies behind the treatments, Regeneron and Eli Lilly, have also stated the drugs aren’t effective against the omicron variant but could be useful for future variations of the virus.

The companies have agreements with the Biden administration to sell the drugs to the federal government, which has shipped them across the country for states to distribute to people seeking treatment.

DeSantis versus Biden on monoclonal decision

DeSantis, a leading but undeclared candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, accused the Biden administration of offering no justification for the decision to halt the treatments. In a statement Tuesday, he called the decision “indefensible” and a result of “medical authoritarianism.”

“Americans’ access to treatments is now subject to the whims of a failing president,” DeSantis said.

Duart, who was appointed to the Florida International University Board of Trustees by DeSantis in October, was not immediately available for comment after the release of the Levine Cava letter. Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for the state Department of Health, said of the CDR Maguire texts: “There is nothing untrue in the notification.”

In the letter, Levine Cava noted 99% of the COVID-19 cases in Miami-Dade have been from the omicron variant and that it would be doing residents “disservice by continuing to provide a treatment that might not be effective for the COVID strain they likely have.”

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