The large pharmacy chain CVS has reached an agreement with the federal government to carry out Covid-19 antibody treatment in patient homes and long-term care facilities of the company announced on WednesdayThis provides a new way for certain high risk patients to get a drug to keep them out of the hospital.
The treatment, developed by Eli Lilly and known as bamlanivimab, has since been given mainly in hospitals Obtained emergency permit from the Food and Drug Administration less than a month ago. Since then, the federal government has distributed it to the state health departments nearly 170,000 Doses of treatment – over half of his supplies for the remainder of this year – although so far only some of these doses have been given to patients.
The three-month pilot with CVS includes just 1,000 doses of treatment, enough to treat 1,000 Covid-19 patients. It is not clear how much impact this will have as the virus is spreading rapidly and the demand for treatments is increasing. More than 184,000 New coronavirus cases were reported in the United States on Monday.
“Despite this partnership, we are talking about a very limited resource,” said Dr. Robert Goldstein, an infectious disease doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We still have no way of delivering it fairly, and I’m not sure the CVS partnership will necessarily improve sales equity.”
However, treatment in residential areas could help circumvent a major logistical challenge: the drug is intended for people with mild to moderate symptoms who are usually advised to stay at home. However, because the drug must be infused intravenously by a doctor, these Covid-19 patients will have to go to a clinic or hospital to get it. This has forced hospitals to find ways to keep these patients away from other vulnerable people who are receiving IV fluids for cancer and other diseases.
“We believe this is a much more patient-friendly type of treatment, from the comfort of your home or without having to move,” said Dr. Sree Chaguturu, the CVS manager who helped plan the pilot program.
The program will initially be limited to seven metropolitan areas: Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Tampa.
These sites were selected based on factors such as location, infrastructure, and clinical capacity, said Michael Pratt, a spokesman for the United States Department of Health.
Treatment is only for patients with certain risk factorsB. be over 65 years old or suffer from diseases such as obesity or diabetes. If an eligible patient tests positive for the coronavirus, providers can order treatment and refer the patient to the CVS Coram Infusion Unit if they believe it is the best way for the patient to receive the infusion.
When it is confirmed that the patient is eligible, Coram dispatches nurses to the patient homes to provide treatment. The drip of the drug lasts for an hour, and then the patient is monitored for side effects for an additional hour or so.
Treatment offers another tool to keep patients out of the hospital, but experts have been careful when it comes to it. After the drug received emergency clearance, it became a panel of the National Institutes of Health said that there was not enough evidence to recommend for or against, and that this should not be taken as a standard of care. An Infectious Disease Society recommended against the routine application of treatment.
Dr. Chaguturu would end the financial terms of the CVS contract with H.H.S. did not disclose, but said CVS is being paid for the entire pilot program, not for every patient receiving treatment. (He said CVS has the option to expand the pilot to distribute an additional 1,000 doses.) The drug itself is available free of charge to patients, although some Medicare seniors who do not have additional insurance cover a fee of around $ 60 to have it managed, federal officials said last month.
Aside from the antibody treatment distribution agreement, CVS’s retail business will play a prominent role in the delivery of vaccines once approved. The federal government has agreements with CVS and Walgreens to send pharmacists to nursing homes and similar facilities to vaccinate residents and workers there – a group that is an advisory board for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended should be the first to receive the vaccine with healthcare workers.
CVS and other pharmacies will also play a key role in vaccinating the public once vaccines become more widely available.