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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Two once helpful COVID antibody treatments — made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly — have been sidelined by the Food and Drug Administration after the companies’ lab studies showed they no longer work against the omicron variant. 

“And with that context, obviously, it makes no clinical sense to use the Regeneron or Lilly product to treat COVID-19 today,” said Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, an Infectious Disease Specialist with OhioHealth.

OhioHealth, University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic say they have all moved away from the now-defunct therapies.

“I think the FDA pulled them because there were some parts of the country where they were still being used even though they’re known to be ineffective against omicron and omicron is absolutely the dominant variant now,” said Dr. Keith Armitage, Medical Director of University Hospitals Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health Infectious Disease Specialist.

The CDC says omicron is the cause of more than 99% of COVID cases in the country. 

“With the identification of a new variant, one of the things that they do very quickly is they do lab studies to really measure how well the monoclonal antibodies neutralize or inactivate the virus,” said Gastaldo.

Doctors do have alternative therapies on hand, including a remaining monoclonal antibody treatment called sotrovimab and two antiviral pills from manufacturers Pfizer and Merk. 

“The fact that these older monoclonal antibodies have been pulled because they don’t work against omicron isn’t as concerning as it might be. We have one monoclonal that works, sotrovimab and then we have these pills, especially Paxlovid, that appear to be highly effective,” said Armitage.

However, the Ohio Department of Health says the supply of these treatments allocated to the state is “extremely limited.”

“We have a good range, but we don’t have an adequate supply,” said Gastaldo. “But, throughout 2022, it is expected that the supply of these will become more available for at-risk people.”

Regeneron and Lilly previously announced they were developing new versions of their treatments to target omicron.

“In the absence of a new variant that further complicates things, we may be in reasonably good shape post-omicron in terms of not seeing any more critical surges,” said Armitage.

If the revoked drugs prove effective against future variants, the FDA says they could reauthorize their use.

Healthcare systems are also using a preventative monoclonal antibody treatment, Evusheld, for people who are immunocompromised.