Florida Surgeon General Slams Biden Administration for Shortage of Antibody Treatments

Joe Biden HHS COVID-19 Joseph Ladapo Florida
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo denounces the Biden administration for allegedly limiting the state's "access" to monoclonal antibody therapies for COVID-19. A Miami Dade College lab coat autographed by then-Vice President Joe Biden is pictured in Miami, Florida, on Sept. 2, 2015. Johnny Louis/FilmMagic/Getty

Dr. Joseph Ladapo, the surgeon general of Florida, has blasted the Biden administration for the state's shortage of monoclonal antibody COVID-19 treatments.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week that the government was pausing distribution of authorized antibody therapies manufactured by Regeneron and Eli Lily, citing recent research that suggests the treatments are not effective against the quickly spreading Omicron variant.

The pause did not apply to sotrovimab, the only FDA-authorized antibody treatment that has shown promise against the variant. Before the pause was announced, the government began holding back some supplies of sotrovimab in anticipation of a massive surge in Omicron infections while briefly increasing distribution of the other therapies, according to The Washington Post.

In a letter addressed to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on Tuesday, Ladapo complained that a federal "lack of allocation" of sotrovimab had caused the state an "immediate and life-threatening shortage of treatment options to the State of Florida as the Omicron variant spreads."

Ladapo asked Becerra to allow Florida to pursue unlimited acquisition of any COVID-19 treatment including sotrovimab, despite it being in short supply across the country. He also suggested that the pause on the other treatments was an example of "shortsightedness," while saying that not all cases of COVID-19 are caused by the Omicron variant.

"The federal agencies under your control should not limit our state's access to any available treatment for COVID-19," Ladapo wrote to Becerra. "Florida can expand treatment options for patients by distributing therapeutics to providers working in areas with a low prevalence of Omicron or clinics capable of variant screening."

"The federal government is actively preventing the effective distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments in the U.S.," he added. "The sudden suspension of multiple monoclonal antibody therapy treatments from distribution to Florida removes a health care provider's ability to the best treatment options for their patients in this state."

Ladapo became Florida's surgeon general in September. The previous surgeon general, Dr. Scott Rivkees, had left office following more than a year of near silence after he appeared to contradict Republican Governor Ron DeSantis at a press conference during the early days of the pandemic.

The new surgeon general has a history of making controversial statements about COVID-19, including promoting ineffective treatments like hydroxychloroquine while questioning the usefulness and safety of the proven vaccines. Ladapo also faced bipartisan backlash in October for refusing to wear a mask while meeting with a Democratic state lawmaker who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

Ladapo is not the only state official to criticize the Biden administration for short supplies of effective antibody treatments. Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott accused President Joe Biden of "hoarding" sotrovimab on Monday after several infusion centers ran out of the therapy, alleging that the president had intentionally "stopped providing any of that medicine to Texas."

Newsweek reached out to HHS and the White House for comment.