Antibody drug available for COVID-19 patient infusions starting Friday at CHI Health

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 2:55 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Starting Friday, qualified, physician-referred patients can receive infusions of Bamlanivimab, an antibody-drug used to treat COVID-19, at CHI Health.

“It’s our first option to provide patients who are not hospitalized who are at high risk for hospitalization.” said David Schmidt, CHI Health’s Director of Pharmacy Services. He called the drug “unique.”

The FDA authorized the drug for emergency use earlier this month and because the supply is allocated weekly by the government, it is not available over the counter, in emergency rooms or outpatient clinics.

CHI Health’s supply is from the federal government, which was then allocated by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The 14-hospital system has 1,170 doses to be used across Nebraska and 39 doses for patients in Iowa, but critical access hospitals will also have access to this supply.

Qualifications for the emergency use drug include testing positive for COVID-19, being at high risk for hospitalization, and physician referral. The patient also must consent to the treatment.

There are some mild symptoms that were displayed in the clinical trials like nausea, vomiting and headaches. But according to Dr. Mark Rupp of Nebraska Medicine, the anti body treatment reduces symptoms within days, and only 3% of patients who were infused needed hospital care afterward, compared to patients who received placebo treatment.

Rupp said overall, there is a 7% risk reduction and explained that patients who will be viewed as priority include those who’ve tested positive for the virus, have a body mass index of 35 or clinically obese and 65 years of age or higher. Other comorbidities include diabetes, COPD and other respiratory issues that would increase complications amid a COVID infection.

Both Rupp and Schmidt also advised the treatment not be used for patients already admitted to the hospital with COVID because it was shown in some cases to worsen their condition. They described Bamlanivimab as a successful, intravenous injection that is meant to help patients before needing hospital care and a potential aid to reducing hospital capacity.

“It’s definitely reassuring to providers to have therapeutic options to offer patients.” Schmidt shared.

Once prescribed, a patient will receive a one-time, 700 milligram injection over a period of an hour and then be monitored for another hour afterward for allergic reaction or side effects.

In the Omaha-metro, CHI Health Midlands will serve as CHI Health’s infusion site and will be open eight hours a day, seven days a week starting Friday. Additional infusion sites will be designated at hospital locations in Council Bluffs, Lincoln, Grand Island, Kearney, and other critical-access locations.

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News for updates.

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