Alabama hospitals receive drug to fight COVID-19, ADPH won’t release specifics

Alabama hospitals receive drug to fight COVID-19

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As doctors across the state are preparing to administer the potentially life-saving antiviral Remdesivir to some of their sickest patients, the Alabama Department of Public Health will not disclose what hospitals were selected to receive this drug.

The Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, is rationing out 607,000 vials of the antiviral to all states. ADPH confirmed Tuesday it received a small allocation of the drug from the federal government, which was shipped overnight to hospitals.

“Because the quantity is limited, the physician members of the Governor’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force determined a formula to distribute the allotment equitably among the state’s hospitals," Alabama Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris stated in a written release Tuesday.

ADPH denied WSFA’s request for additional information regarding the number of cases of Remdesivir it received, what hospitals received allocations, and the number of doses for each of those facilities. WSFA was told the information couldn’t be disclosed “due to privacy.” ADPH did not respond to our request for the specific privacy provision that reportedly protects this information. The specific allocation of Remdesivir and the hospitals that received the doses is a matter of public information in dozens of states.

Some hospitals, however, are disclosing their allocations. Baptist Health received enough Remdesivir to treat eight patients. Kadie Agnew, a spokesperson for Baptist Health, says their allocation will treat one patient at Prattville Baptist, two patients at Baptist East, and five patients at Baptist South. The hospitals have the medication in hand and doctors are determining those who would benefit most from the antiviral. Remdesivir is administered intravenously, each patient receives 5 doses during the course of their treatment.

This distribution comes as Baptist Health reports its highest COVID-19 inpatient numbers to date. Eighty patients are currently admitted with the virus, including 47 at Baptist South, 23 at Baptist East, and 10 at Prattville Baptist. Twenty additional patients are awaiting test results.

Jackson Hospital spokesperson Mia Mothershed reports 47 patients are waiting for results to determine if they’re COVID-19 positive. However, they are not confirming inpatient numbers. Mothershed couldn’t elaborate on whether Jackson Hospital received doses of Remdesivir.

A spokesperson for UAB also confirmed the hospital received doses of Remdesivir from the state's allocation this week. UAB is part of the Remdesivir study that established the antiviral as a standard of care for COVID-19. It's currently preparing to participate in the second phase of the trial.

WSFA reached out to Alabama’s Congressional Delegation to learn more about the state’s allocation of Remdesivir. A Republican Senate aide confirmed no U.S. Senator or Senate Committee was involved in the distribution of Remdesivir to states.

“It is purely an HHS decision how many go where,” the aide stated.

HHS has not responded to WSFA’s requests for information.

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