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New Outpatient COVID-19 Treatment

Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 have a new treatment option that could reduce their chances of needing to be hospitalized because of the virus. In late November, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for casirivimab and imdevimab to be used to treat COVID-19 positive patients who may be at high risk of developing severe symptoms and could end up in the hospital. Recently, the pharmacy for Idaho Falls Community Hospital and Mountain View Hospital Pharmacy received its first doses of the drug and plans to administer them starting this weekend.

“We want to help our community members recover from COVID-19 without ever needing to go to the hospital,” said Whitney Cooley, director of pharmacy for Idaho Falls Community Hospital. “We now have two different outpatient treatment options available and, in clinical trials, both medications showed a marked difference in patients’ recovery. If you are diagnosed with the coronavirus, please call your primary care provider right away to see what treatment options may be available to you.”

Casirivimab and imdevimab are laboratory produced antibodies designed to kickstart patients’ natural immune response to the coronavirus. The drugs works similarly to bamlanivimab, another outpatient COVID-19 treatment that was approved last month. Of the patients involved in the initial clinical trial, only 3 percent of patients who took casirivimab and imdevimab required hospitalization for COVID-19. To recognize the maximum benefits of these drugs, patients should seek treatment as soon as possible after receiving a positive diagnosis.  

The drugs are available to patients 12 years and older who are at high risk of developing more severe symptoms, this includes individuals over the age of 65 and those with chronic health conditions. Unfortunately, casirivimab and imdevimab is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 or require oxygen therapy.

Community members who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are interested in receiving casirivimab and imdevimab or bamlanivimab should contact their primary care physician. Doctors are coordinating closely with the pharmacy to ensure high risk patients have access to this treatment.

Even with outpatient antibody treatments available, healthcare providers still need the community’s help in slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Idahoans are encouraged to wear masks, wash their hands frequently and practice physical distancing.