LUBBOCK, Texas – Monoclonal antibody infusions have been a revolutionary treatment to help ensure that people with COVID-19 do not become seriously ill or, in some cases, can prevent hospitalization.
Amid the growing cases of the Omicron variant, people are turning to this treatment again. However, some Lubbock infusion centers are struggling to stock up.
“The degree of uncertainty this system has created is really, really unhealthy for the medical community,” said Dr. Houssam Kharrat, medical provider at Lubbock’s private COVID infusion site, the West Texas Digestive Disease Center. “The system really has a lot of problems. It really doesn’t work as well as everyone wanted it to.
The West Texas Digestive Disease Center began providing antibody infusions when the drug became widely available. Originally, they used the drug supplier they already had to secure infusion shipments.
“Before, we only got what we needed because with this specific sourcing company their shipping time was incredible. You place an order before 3 pm, you receive it the next day at 10 am, ”said Dr Kharrat.
But in September, the state took over the infusion drug allocation, which meant the center had to register its infusion site and start keeping more detailed records of the number of infusions it administered.
This is when the problems started.
“We still have medicines on hand, but as if we are seriously under-resourced. It is very difficult to predict when we will receive the next shipment, and it is very difficult to plan for care if you do not know whether you are going to have medication on hand or not. For me it puts a lot of stress on me, ”said Dr Kharrat.
But in addition to the unpredictable shipments, the Digestive Disease Denter said it started receiving fewer drugs.
“You can’t get more drugs than you declare. If we’re using 10 patients this week, that’s what they’re going to send to you. They’re going to send you 10. Even though you have a waiting list or have 15 patients who need it, you have no way of increasing that volume, ”said Dr Kharrat.
This is something Dr Kharrat said worried about because a person with COVID only has a 10-day window to get treatment.
However, Dr. Kharrat is doing what he can to fight back.
“I’m going to fight and I’m going to go ahead and call the state officials and everyone I know and everyone I have access to as well. I will call and get in touch with just to resolve this issue, ”Dr Kharrat said.
Until the issue is resolved, Dr. Kharrat strives to serve as many patients as possible.
“I saw how well they are doing after the infusion. And once you start hearing these success stories, you like what motivates you the next day, ”Dr. Kharrat said.
The West Texas Digestive Disease Center plans to make its antibody infusion site more permanent in the New Year.
Everythinglubbock.com also reached out to Texas State Senator Charles Perry about this, but he was not available for an interview. District 19 Congressman Jodey Arrington was also contacted for more information but did not respond.