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Local Hospitals Jump on Newly Approved COVID Treatment


A newly-approved treatment for COVID-19 is already helping patients in South Dakota.

The antibody treatment is given through an IV, and it could greatly reduce hospitalization rates for high-risk patients.

The drug is called bamlanivimab. The FDA recently granted emergency use authorization to its producer, Eli Lilly. The company reports a 72% reduction in hospitalization risk for patients treated soon after their diagnosis.

Dr. Mike Wilde is the Vice President Medical Officer for Sanford Health in Sioux Falls. He says local patients are already receiving the new treatment.

“That is available for infusion. They show great promise in reducing rates of hospitalizations.

But it’s not for everyone. The drug’s use is limited to high-risk patients, which includes those with diabetes, suppressed immune systems, and other conditions.

Dr. Mike Elliot is Chief Medical Officer with Avera McKennan. He says the system is working through the tight restrictions to serve as many patients as it can.

“Actively, across the system, we are working to stand up out-patient infusion centers so we can distribute this medication as quickly as possible.”

Dr. Elliott says another antibody treatment from Regeneron has also received emergency use authorization from the FDA. Dr. Elliott says the details of that drug’s distribution are still pending. 

Avera partnered with Regeneron for three of the company’s COVID-related drug trials in early September.