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Local hospital to begin administering new COVID-19 treatment next week

Coronavirus

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Madison Memorial Hospital | Courtesy Madison Memorial Hospital Facebook page

REXBURG — A local hospital will be one of the first medical facilities nationwide to implement a new COVID-19 treatment.

Beginning Nov. 17, Madison Memorial Hospital will start administering the just-released monoclonal antibody treatment known as Bamlanivimab for targeted COVID-19-positive patients in Madison County and the surrounding areas. The investigational medicine is comparable to the treatment President Donald Trump received after he contracted the virus last month, according to a Madison Memorial news release.

“We’ve been staying pretty close to what’s going on — what kind of treatment options are out there and what new things are happening,” hospital spokesman Doug McBride told EastIdahoNews.com. “Because we’re a hotspot for COVID right now, that gives us a little bit of an edge opportunity to get certain amounts of these treatments.”

On Nov. 9, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the use of Bamlanivimab to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older, weighing at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds), and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

In clinical trials, Bamlanivimab was shown to reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients who presented a high probability of potential disease progression, according to the FDA.

“For a mid-sized regional healthcare facility, Madison Memorial once again has shown that state-of-the-art care is available right here, in our own community, right now,” Dr. Clay Prince, Chief Medical Officer at Madison Memorial, said in the news release. “From the FDA’s emergency release on Monday, to deployment and implementation here in Madison County only a week later, the hospital’s response has been both immediate and impressive.”

Bamlanivimab is intended for high-risk patients — not already hospitalized — at the onset of COVID-19 symptoms, McBride explained. This is a treatment to help those infected with the virus to avoid being admitted to the hospital.

“It is a limited amount (of treatment kits that we’re getting), and it has to be under high scrutiny of those who would be getting this treatment,” McBride explained. “They have to go through a little bit of a screening process as to who would be most benefited by that.”

The medicine is administered as an outpatient infusion procedure. McBride says it’s a one time infusion that takes about an hour, but the patient then has to be watched for up to an hour afterwards.

The hospital has a dedicated satellite facility located inside the Madison Memorial Rexburg Medical Clinic for COVID-19 patients who will be receiving Bamlanivimab treatments. The hospital says trained infusion therapists will administer the procedures to a limited number of pre-qualified patients who’ve tested positive within the previous three days, and for whom the risk of disease progression is high.

“We’re excited to be receiving a number of these Bamlanivimab treatment kits,” Madison Memorial Pharmacy Director Dorsie Sullenger said in the news release. “Monoclonal antibodies, which we refer to as ‘mAbs,’ have been shown to be quite effective, especially when given early enough in the infection of the patient.”

The news release says selection of appropriate patients for the treatment will be done by the local community of doctors, and confirmed by Madison Memorial prior to administration. The hospital will also be reaching out to educate local physicians regarding the availability of this new tool.

For more COVID-19 news, click here.

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