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U.S. Reps. Brooks, Moore press HHS secretary on department limiting COVID-19 treatment, say move places ‘lives at risk’

U.S. Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) on Thursday penned a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra requesting clarity on the department’s move to alter the ordering process of monoclonal antibody treatments.

HHS recently implemented a change in how health care providers may obtain the antibody treatment by forcing states to go through HHS to order the drug, rather than providers ordering from distributors directly.

Numerous elected officials and public health experts have questioned the HHS move, fearing it would cause supply shortages of what many see as a life-saving treatment in the fight against COVID-19.

Members of Alabama’s congressional delegation have joined U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) in directly confronting HHS regarding its changes to how health care providers are allowed to order the drug.

In the letter authored by Brooks and Moore, the congressmen contend that move was “done rapidly and with inadequate national input from states or other health care providers” further stating that it caught providers “off guard,” particularly in rural areas.

The congressmen say that the move appears to have caused the state of Alabama to “experience a significant drop in the amount of mAb (monoclonal antibody) dose availability.” Brooks and Moore go on to request that HHS clarify how the new allocation formula will effect dosage supply in the state.

U.S. Reps. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) and Mike Rogers (R-Saks) cosigned the letter along with their fellow Alabama Republican colleagues.

Brooks cited a University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) study, which found the treatment to be effective in reducing hospitalization rates among those infected with the deadly virus.

“According to University of Alabama in Birmingham researchers, monoclonal antibody therapy reduces risk of hospitalization by 70% in high-risk unvaccinated persons,” stated Brooks. “But, the Biden Administration is throttling Alabama’s supply of mAb treatments according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. The signers of this letter want answers from the Biden Administration about why they’re reducing the number of lifesaving treatments available to Alabamians.”

Moore slammed HHS for the move, saying the department adding “red tape” to the process as the state is experiencing a surge in the Delta variant is “inexcusable.”

“This allocation change to the supply of monoclonals in the midst of a public health emergency delayed potentially life-saving treatments to many Alabamians,” said Moore. ”The federal government implemented this change at a time when many Alabama hospitals were in the midst of a crisis from a rise in the delta variant. Adding even more government red tape to our hospitals at a time like this is inexcusable. This administration needs to stop playing politics when there are lives at stake.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL