The sudden reversal by the federal government to effectively ban patients from getting the two most common monoclonal antibody therapies left Florida patients feeling tricked in every way.
For weeks, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis campaigned to open more sites despite evidence that the treatments from Regeneron and Eli Lilly weren’t effective against the omicron variant. When asked, DeSantis labeled his position as advocating for medical freedom.
Many of the state’s residents agree with his position and were frustrated that their appointments would not be honored Tuesday.
“It’s kind of infuriating to me that they would take something away from people that could potentially save lives,” Jennifer Brumale said.
Officials have been careful to note that there is a treatment still available, Sotrovimab, though in extremely small quantities. Only one Central Florida site offers it, and appointments are booked up.
However, other Floridians are furious that the supposed “miracle” way to feel better wasn’t as advertised.
“They are the ones that were responsible for making the appointments for everybody and getting it out, and they are the ones responsible with knowledge of not putting the right one out there,” Jodie Martinez said.
Martinez, a cancer patient and transplant recipient from DeLand, received the correct therapy at a hospital when she contracted COVID-19 due to her medical history.
However, her wife, a Type 1 diabetic, went through the state’s website instead.
“I feel bad for everybody that was in that room with me,” Lori Martinez said. “We had to trust that we were being given the proper treatment, and we weren’t.”
Martinez waited four days for her therapy and only found out Regeneron wasn’t effective when the FDA pulled its authorization. Due to the length of time that has passed, she is no longer considered a candidate for treatment, despite continuing to experience moderate symptoms.
“I have all these emotions because I did what I was supposed to do,” she said.
Both women expressed frustration with the state of Florida politics, where they felt lives and health had been put on the line by elected officials trying to score political points.
Jodie, in particular, said she was ready to take some of them to court over their refusal to acknowledge that the treatments being offered weren’t helpful.
“I’m tired of the ignorance that we have in this state from people,” she said. “Honestly, it’s so overwhelming.”
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