What to know before getting a monoclonal antibody treatment

Florida to open 15 monoclonal antibody treatment clinics, offering free treatments

ORLANDO, Fla. – With Orlando’s Camping World Stadium serving as a site for monoclonal antibody treatment News 6 has spoken to people that have received the treatment and doctors who have some advice for people considering it.

The site is offering a monoclonal antibody treatment that received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Federal Drug Administration. It is an infused medication that can reduce COVID symptoms in patients who are at high risk.

Florida’s surgeon general issued a standing order that waives the need to have a doctor prescribe the treatment, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“So if you meet the basic criteria of the emergency use authorization, you can just make an appointment, you don’t even need to necessarily have that initial consultation,” DeSantis said. “You don’t necessarily need to have a prescription and so that makes it easier for folks. And so it cuts out your need to necessarily go see a doctor if you’re going to do it.”

News 6 asked people at the antibody treatment clinic if they were getting it on advice from their doctors, or if it’s a decision they’re making for themselves.

Jill St. Thomas was at Camping World Stadium this week she said she was vaccinated but among the COVID-19 breakthrough cases. She tested positive for the virus Friday.

She said she came to Camping World Stadium to get monoclonal antibody treatment. She wasn’t referred by her doctor and decided on her own to get the treatment.

“I saw it on the news, actually, and I immediately signed up because my physician had had it as well, and swore by it,” St. Thomas said.

On Wednesday, DeSantis held a news conference in Pembroke Pines, commented on the availability and ease of getting the monoclonal antibody treatment at sites like the one in Orlando. Florida plans to roll out at least 15 free treatment clinics across the state, according to the governor.

Dr. Kelli Tice, a family physician and Senior Medical Director for Medical Affairs for Florida Blue said it’s always ideal to have recommendations for treatment come from a physician.

“Particularly from a physician who knows the patient; having said that, we know that there are a significant number of folks who don’t have a primary care physician, or are unable to get in to see their primary doctor, because we are dealing with a pandemic,” Tice said.

She said sites that administer the monoclonal antibody treatment evaluate people based on the medical history they provide, and criteria for use of the treatment.

But Tice added, if someone were to test positive for COVID and call their doctor, the doctor would assess their symptoms and tell the patient where to go and when for the progression of symptoms.

Tice said the most important thing is to recognize if a person requires urgent or emergent care or evaluation.

She also said, depending on a person’s symptoms, in many cases over the counter meds can help.

Tice said sometimes people may need antibiotics because in some cases, a bacterial infection can develop.

The clinic at the stadium is set to be open seven days a week and will be able to treat up to 320 patients per day. The site does require appointments, which can be made online here.

Doctors warn that the treatment is not a substitute for the COVID-19 vaccination. The monoclonal antibody treatment effectiveness only lasts for several weeks.