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StarMed begins offering monoclonal antibody therapy to some COVID-19 patients

Monoclonal antibody therapy is a treatment that can prevent patients with a mild case of COVID-19 from worsening.
Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 3:49 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A COVID-19 therapy to help patients with mild to moderate cases of the virus is expanding in Charlotte.

StarMed Healthcare started offering monoclonal antibody therapy to some COVID-19 patients on Thursday. Monoclonal antibody therapy is a treatment that can prevent patients with a mild case of COVID-19 from worsening.

“We’ve seen this as an opportunity to help patients who are COVID-positive, unvaccinated, or vaccinated but are not mounting a response because they are immunocompromised,” CEO of StarMed Healthcare Mike Estramonte said.

Monoclonal antibodies are made in a laboratory. They can be administered to patients via IV infusion. Estramonte says it takes about 21 minutes to receive the treatment. A patient must wait for an hour after treatment to be monitored for any side effects.

“We’re able to do this in a clinical setting outside the hospitals, and hopefully with the main goal of preventing hospitalizations,” Estramonte said.

Estramonte says monoclonal antibodies should not be looked at as a substitute for a COVID-19 vaccine. He says people should still get vaccinated, but this therapy provides another option to patients who did not get a vaccine or are not mounting an immune response to the vaccine.

Estramonte says 28 people received the COVID-19 therapy at StarMed on Central Avenue Thursday. The state allotted the healthcare provider 100 doses of monoclonal antibodies. Estramonte expects more to be sent to them if there is demand. Currently, monoclonal antibodies are only offered at StarMed’s Central Avenue location.

Estramonte says the treatment is free to patients and is covered by all insurance carriers. To request an appointment, click here.

Because of availability, StarMed will conduct an evaluation and prioritize patients who qualify for the therapy. To qualify, you must be 12 years or older, not fully vaccinated, or vaccinated but not mounting an immune response to the vaccine.

Atrium Health and Novant Health began administering monoclonal antibody therapy to certain COVID-19 patients in December of 2020. A spokesperson for Novant Health shared the following information:

Novant Health began administering monoclonal antibody treatment to COVID-19 patients in December 2020. Since then, we have administered these drugs to over 700 patients at infusion centers in Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Salisbury, and our Coastal Market.

Novant Health follows emergency use authorization criteria for monoclonal antibody treatment. Eligible patients:

  • Have a positive COVID-19 test with mild-moderate symptoms AND
  • Are not hospitalized AND
  • Are over 65 years old or have other chronic conditions that put them at a high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19.

These drugs need to be ordered by a physician, and Novant Health has sites in each of our markets that can administer them.

An Atrium Health spokesperson shared the following information about its monoclonal antibody therapy:

Atrium Health began providing monoclonal antibody treatment to at-risk patients in Dec 2020 – we were the first in the region to treat both in clinical trials and under the FDA’s emergency use authorization. Patients can access therapy after being assessed by an Atrium Health provider who will determine if therapy is appropriate for them. To qualify for therapy, patients must have had symptoms for COVID infection for less than 7 days and have some risk factors for development of severe COVID infection (diabetes, age, obesity, etc). This therapy is for patients in the early stages of the disease who are not yet hospitalized as the goal is to keep patients from developing severe infection and requiring oxygen or hospital care.

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