A drug developed by Eli Lilly and Company dramatically reduces the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 among high-risk populations and is now available at the Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC).
In Lilly’s study of 299 residents, half of whom received a placebo, those randomized to receive the drug bamlanivimab had up to an 80% lower risk of contracting COVID-19, according to a study that has not yet been published.
Dr. Lee Taylor, Interim Chief Medical Officer at CRMC sat down with us at the Livingston Enterprise in an interview to help inform the public of this innovative drug that could significantly decrease the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19—and ultimately decrease the death rate—in the Upper Cumberland area.
Taylor explained that the new antiviral medication has received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in high-risk COVID-19-positive patients who have not yet been hospitalized.
“The people who are eligible to be administered this drug are also very high risk at having the worst results if the were to become COVID-positive and are hospitalized,” Taylor said.
The following populations qualify for the medication once testing positive:
Sixty-five years or older in age;
Having a BMI of 35 or higher;
Diagnosed with diabetes mellitus;
Diagnosed with chronic kidney disease;
Or diagnosed with an immunosuppressive disease or is receiving an immunosuppressive treatment.
If none of the above conditions are met, a patient will qualify if they are:
Fifty-five years or older in age and are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, COPD or other chronic respiratory conditions (such as asthma or emphysema).
“These are the high-risk groups that have very bad results from COVID who are helped by this medication,” Taylor added.
According to Taylor, this antiviral medication can only be prescribed for these very specific reasons.
He also explained that the earlier bamlanivimab is given, the better the results and its effectiveness.
While it is better to receive the medication early, a qualifying patient must have received a positive COVID-19 PCR test and be within 10 days since the onset of symptoms.
A qualifying patient also must have never been hospitalized for COVID-19.
“If you are COVID-positive, go to your doctor quickly. Time is of the essence,” Taylor said. “If you can’t get in to see your doctor in a timely manner… You can go to our urgent care center.”
Taylor explained with COVID-19, a patient’s symptoms can change dramatically within a few hours and postponing or canceling your appointment could be dire.
“When it gets to a certain bad point, we can not administer it,” Taylor said. “If you’re staying home until you’re really short of breath and your oxygen saturation number is really low, we can’t give it because it has been shown to now help those people and in some cases, harm them.”
He reiterated that anyone out in the public who meets any of the criterion listed above should make an appointment for bamlanivimab treatment.
Taylor explained the antiviral medication is administered by infusion through a vein and it takes approximately one hour for the infusion and one our of observation following the infusion.
It is recommended to plan for at least 2-3 hours for the appointment.
Cookeville Regional Urgent Care is located at 340 N. Cedar, Cookeville, Tenn.
The infusion center is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Bamlanivimab was also a treatment that former President Donald Trump received during his COVID-19 diagnoses.