Florida Delegation Calls on HHS to Send More Remdesivir to Florida

On Friday, the Florida congressional delegation, led by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla.,  called on U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Sec. Alex Azar to send more Remdesivir to Florida as the state continues to see rising numbers of patients with COVID-19.

“We write to express our serious concern with regard to the need for increased allotments of Remdesivir as our state experiences a major increase in hospitalizations of patients afflicted with COVID-19,” the delegation wrote Azar.  “As many of us recently communicated with you, Florida is experiencing an unacceptable backlog in delivery of the COVID-19 treatment, Remdesivir. Hospital clinicians are reporting that the drug is essential in treating COVID-19 patients as it reduces the need for ventilator use as well as the severity and length of illness.

“It is our understanding that, on July 8, integral members of the administration and Coronavirus Task Force heard reports from 100 Florida hospitals and medical leaders that the state needs an emergency shipment of Remdesivir to avoid disruption of care. The hospitals were informed that they would receive two distributions totaling up to 130,000 vials in the near future. The Department of Health and Human Services’ delivery of 17,080 vials to the state on July 10 was both immensely helpful and appreciated, but it is unfortunately far short of what Florida hospitals still require and were led to believe would be allotted,” the delegation continued.

“Our hospitals and doctors are making clinical decisions about whether to initiate Remdesivir treatments based on assurances from federal officials that they will have supply of the drug. The shipments received last week have largely been depleted. Many hospitals throughout the state are on the verge of exhausting their supply even as they face a major increase in hospitalization of patients who will require Remdesivir during the early stages of their hospitalization,” the delegation added.  “Florida’s hospitals are currently caring for more than 9,500 COVID-19 positive patients, with nearly 2,000 of those patients requiring ICU level of care. Based on the continued increase in hospitalizations, Florida will need an estimated 80,000 vials of Remdesivir to meet the demand and to continue to be able to provide this life-saving drug to patients until the next anticipated shipment on July 27, 2020. We urge you to take steps to expedite the delivery of Remdesivir to remedy this shortage and to implement a process of distribution going forward that avoids any future backlogs in supplying this crucial drug to Florida hospitals.

“Finally, our state is experiencing a shortage of reagent, which our hospitals and testing labs must have to process timely and reliable testing for COVID-19. The lack of this material results in excessive test result delays and greater demands on limited personal protective equipment for the health care workforce caring for those patients whose COVID-19 status is unknown and must be assumed positive. More specifically, to the extent that you may not already be doing so, we request that you reevaluate requests made by all states in early July to determine whether the same level of need still exists in other states before making the next allocation and to consider if a reallocation to states with higher needs is warranted,” the delegation wrote in conclusion. “It is imperative that as Florida battles this pandemic that substantive steps be taken to dramatically shorten the time between evaluation of need and distribution of supplies. This should be done by utilizing real-time data reporting to steer Remdesivir, reagent, personal protective equipment, staffing and other critical personnel and supplies far more quickly to those states who need it the most. Thank you for your attention to these critical issues and your prompt reply. We look forward to working with you to save the lives of Floridians.”

“As the number of COVID-19 cases increase in Florida, it is clear that our hospitals need additional allotments of Remdesivir,” said Crystal Stickle, the interim president of the Florida Hospital Association. “We appreciate Senator Rubio for his work to secure additional allotments of this vital drug from the federal commitment, and we thank Governor DeSantis for making the State’s resources available during this critical time of need. Florida’s hospitals, and the hard-working medical professionals across the state, stand ready to continue battling this pandemic on the front lines.”

At the end of last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the state will be getting 30,000 vials of Remdesivir.

Rubio weighed in on this news on Saturday.

“As our state continues to experience a significant increase in hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, it is imperative that hospitals are equipped with Remdesivir and other essential supplies,” Rubio said. “Today’s announcement is a welcome one, and I appreciate everything the White House did to make this happen. I will continue working with the administration to ensure Florida’s hospitals and the health care professionals battling this pandemic on the front lines have every available federal resource at their disposal.”

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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