LUBBOCK, Texas — Monoclonal antibody infusions have been a breakthrough treatment in helping make sure those with COVID-19 do not become seriously ill or, in some cases, can prevent hospitalization.
Amid rising cases of the Omicron variant, folks are once again turning to this treatment. However, some infusion centers in Lubbock are having trouble getting their hands on supplies.
“The amount of uncertainty that this system created is really, really not healthy for the medical community,” said Medical provider at Lubbock’s private COVID infusion site, the West Texas Digestive Disease Center, Dr. Houssam Kharrat. “The system is really having a lot of hiccups in it. It’s really not working as good as everyone wished.”
The West Texas Digestive Disease Center took on providing antibody infusions when the medicine became widely available. They originally used the drug supplier they already had to get infusion shipments.
“We used to just get what we need because with this specific supply company, their turn around time in shipping was amazing. You put an order in before 3 o’clock you get it the next day at 10 o’clock,” said Dr. Kharrat.
But in September, the state took over allocating the infusion medicine, meaning the center had to register their infusion site and begin keeping more detailed records of the number of infusions they gave.
That was when the problems began.
“We still have some medication on hand, but like we are really running low. It’s very hard to predict when we are going to get the next shipment and it’s very hard to plan to provide care if you don’t know if you are going to have medication on hand or not. That to me is putting a lot of stress on myself,” said Dr. Kharrat.
But on top of unpredictable shipping the Digestive Disease Denter said they started receiving less medicine.
“You cannot get more medication than what you report. If we use 10 patients this week that’s what they are going to send you. They are going to send you 10. Although, you may have a waiting list or you have 15 patients that need it you have no way to increase that volume,” said Dr. Kharrat.
It’s something Dr. Kharrat said worries him, as someone with COVID only has a 10 day window to get the treatment.
However, Dr. Kharrat is doing what he can to fight back.
“I’m gonna fight and I’m going to go ahead and call the state representatives and everyone I know and everyone I have access too. I’m gonna call and get in touch with just to fix up this,” said Dr. Kharrat.
Until the issue is solved, Dr. Kharrat is focusing on serving as many patients as he can.
“I’ve seen how good they do after the infusion. And once you start hearing those success stories that like what motives you the next day,” said Dr. Kharrat.
The West Texas Digestive Disease Center is planning on making their antibody infusion site more permanent in the new year.
Everythinglubbock.com also reached out to Texas State Senator Charles Perry regarding the issue but he was unavailable for an interview. Congressman for District 19 Jodey Arrington was also contacted for further information but did not respond.