CVS has reached an agreement with the federal government to conduct Covid-19 antibody treatment in patient homes and long-term care facilities, the pharmacy chain announced on Wednesday, offering certain high-risk patients a new way to get a drug aimed at keeping them out of the hospital.
Developed by Eli Lilly and developed as bamlanivimab, the treatment has been given primarily in hospitals since it received emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration less than a month ago. Since then, the federal government has distributed nearly 170,000 doses of treatment to state health departments, although so far only a few of those doses have been given to patients. The federal government bought 950,000 cans for January, including the cans already distributed.
The three-month pilot with CVS includes just 1,000 doses, 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 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, Florida.
These sites were selected based on factors such as location, infrastructure, and clinical capacity, said Michael Pratt, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Treatment is only intended for patients with certain risk factors, such as: B. over 65 years of age or with 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.
If it is confirmed that patients are eligible, Coram will dispatch nurses to their dormitories 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 accepting it. After the drug received emergency approval, a panel from the National Institutes of Health said there wasn't enough evidence to recommend or oppose it, and that it should not be considered the standard for treatment. An infectious disease society recommended against routine use of treatment.
Dr. Chaguturu would not disclose the financial terms of CVS 'contract with the Department of Health and Human Services, but said CVS will be paid for the entire pilot program, not for every patient receiving treatment. (He said CVS has the option to expand the pilot to dispense an additional 1,000 doses.) The drug itself is available for free to patients, although some Medicare seniors who do not have additional insurance cover a fee of around 60 Dollars 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 – a group that an advisory panel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Tuesday should go first Received vaccine. along with health workers.
CVS and other pharmacies will also play a key role in vaccinating the public once vaccines become more widely available.