New treatment option for COVID-positive patients now available at Asante Ashland Community Hospital
With the FDA’s approval for the emergency use of monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19, Asante is one of four health care providers in Oregon offering this potentially life-saving care to people in our community.
Now available at Asante Ashland Community Hospital, the monoclonal antibody treatment bamlanivimab (made by Eli Lilly and Company) and the therapeutic cocktail casirivimab/imdevimab (made by Regeneron) are the first outpatient, non-vaccine treatments for COVID-19.
They offer an experimental treatment option for people newly diagnosed with COVID-19 and who meet certain medical criteria as determined by the FDA. The treatment is appropriate for about 12% of people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.
“The treatment can have a significant impact on the severity of symptoms people experience as well as help reduce the need for more intense hospital-related interventions,” said Lee Shapley, MD, administrator at Asante Ashland Community Hospital. “By treating people at the early onset of their COVID diagnosis, this therapy can help people recover faster with fewer lingering effects of the disease and keep more people out of the hospital.”
The drugs are administered via intravenous infusion to people with an early diagnosis for COVID-19 and who are in a high-risk category. This includes, but is not limited to, people with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, respiratory disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, immunosuppressive disease or have a body mass index over 35.
“People diagnosed with COVID need to ask their doctor right away if they’re a candidate for monoclonal antibody treatment,” said Dr. Shapley. “It’s important to start treatment immediately after a diagnosis for the best outcome.”
The infusion treatment lasts about an hour, with an additional hour of observation after the treatment. “Asante is following recommendations from the FDA to provide the highest quality care and meet the highest safety standards possible for this therapy,” said Kristi Blackhurst, vice president of Operations at Asante Ashland and Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. “Treatment can be considered for any person in Asante’s nine-county service area in Southern Oregon and Northern California who has a referral from their doctor.”
The infusion center at Asante Ashland was made possible by the community. Through donations to Asante Foundation, the space for this specialized treatment includes infusion chairs, IV pumps, new flooring, fresh paint and other furnishings.
“Offering this innovative treatment is a testament to the power of philanthropy in our community,” said Andrea Reeder, Asante Foundation campaign director. “Not only has the community responded beautifully to help meet the most urgent needs related to COVID, it has turned to Asante as a trusted health care partner. Donor generosity made this infusion unit a reality, and it continues to help patients and health care workers through the pandemic and beyond.”
Go to asantefoundation.org for more information about the COVID-19 Compassion Fund.
The other three Oregon hospitals offering monoclonal antibody treatment are St. Alphonsus Medical Center in Baker City, Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Heppner and Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay.
About monoclonal antibody treatment
Antibodies are proteins that people's bodies make to fight viruses, such as the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies made in a laboratory act a lot like natural antibodies to limit the amount of virus in your body. They are called monoclonal antibodies.
These antibodies may help reduce the amount of COVID-19 virus in the body, which could give the body more time to learn how to make its own antibodies. Studies have shown these experimental therapies lessen the severity of symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection and prevent hospitalization.
Monoclonal antibody treatment with bamlanivimab or with casirivimab and imdevimab are for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have mild to moderate symptoms and meet FDA high-risk criteria. Casirivimab and imdevimab must be given together. Bamlanivimab is given alone.
Medical providers must follow guidelines from the FDA Fact Sheet for Bamlanivimab and the FDA Fact Sheet for Regeneron to assess and refer their patients appropriately.