GALION — Avita Health System has increased patient access to monoclonal antibody infusion therapy at Galion Hospital.
Treatment is available Monday through Friday for outpatients with COVID-19 infection, as well as patients with a confirmed exposure to the virus who meet the criteria for post-exposure preventative use.
“The FDA has extended the Emergency Use Authorization application for monoclonal antibody therapy,” explained Christina Barnes, Director of Pharmacy Services at Avita Health System. “As the supply has become more readily available, the criteria for therapy has changed, thus allowing us to offer treatment to an increased number of patients.”
Avita offers monoclonal antibody infusion therapy to patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are high-risk for developing severe illness. Antibody therapy has been shown to lessen symptom severity and help prevent hospitalization.
“Patients who meet the criteria should seek antibody therapy early after symptom onset," Barnes said. "The treatment must be given within 10 days of the start of symptoms. We recommend treatment within the first few days for the best results. The sooner the better, so do not delay getting tested if you have symptoms.”
Monoclonal antibodies are a type of medication produced in a laboratory that can mimic the human immune system response to infection or other diseases. These particular medications are designed to block viral attachment and entry into human cells, neutralizing the virus that causes COVID-19.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is administered as an IV infusion. Patients must meet specific criteria to qualify for treatment and a doctor’s order is required.
“The first step is to contact your primary care provider or visit one of Avita’s Walk-In Clinics,” Barnes said. “Your provider can help you get tested for COVID-19 and provide an order for antibody therapy. Over the past couple of months, we’ve been providing therapy to approximately 100 patients per week.
"More people are eligible for treatment than you may think, including those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated.”
Monoclonal antibody therapy is available at Avita to individuals 18 years of age and older who meet the following criteria:
1. Are at high-risk for developing severe COVID-19 illness*
2. Have a positive COVID-19 test and have not been admitted to the hospital (Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and antigen tests qualify.)
“Since your primary care provider will need to see the positive test, if you do an at home antigen test, be sure to have it proctored,” Barnes said. “Follow the directions for proctoring that come with the kit so that we are able to use the results. We want to avoid having to repeat the test and potentially delay treatment.”
*High-risk includes one of the following:
Body Mass Index over 25
Diabetes (Type 1 & Type 2)
Chronic kidney disease
Cardiovascular disease/high blood pressure
Weakened immune system
Chronic lung disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Sickle cell disease
Currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
65 years of age or older
Monoclonal antibody therapy is also available at Avita for prevention of infection. Post-exposure prophylaxis is treatment given to select patients who have had a significant exposure to COVID-19. This preventative use is for patients 18 years of age or older who meet the following criteria:
1. Are high-risk for developing severe COVID-19 illness*
2. Not fully vaccinated or vaccinated but immunocompromised
“If you believe you have had a close contact exposure, contact your primary care provider or visit one of the Avita Walk-In Clinics to discuss your options for post exposure prophylaxis,” said Barnes. “This is an underutilized option because a lot of patients do not realize it is available.”
“The best prevention against COVID-19 is the vaccine. The best tool to help prevent severe illness and hospitalization if you test positive for COVID-19 is monoclonal antibody therapy. It has helped countless patients. They often report feeling better within a few hours after treatment,” Barnes said.