Mercy Arkansas is now offering Regen-COV for outpatients with COVID-19 that aims to aid in their recovery and prevent hospitalization.
Often called the “COVID cocktail,” the experimental treatment approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration combines two antibodies to help a patient’s immune system fight the infection.
Mercy Arkansas locations in Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith along with critical access hospitals in Berryville, Booneville, Ozark, Paris and Waldron are now offering the treatment. Mercy NWA offers the treatment as an injection, while patients at Mercy Fort Smith receive treatment through an infusion process.
Mercy previously used another treatment commonly referred to as BAM. However, this new combination of casirivimab and imdevimab therapy has shown better results in preventing patients with the COVID-19 delta variant from being hospitalized.
According to the FDA, in a clinical trial of patients with COVID-19, casirivimab and imdevimab, administered together, were shown to reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization and ER visits in patients at high risk for disease progression.
“Antibody infusion has shown to be beneficial for COVID-19 patients who are at high risk of poor outcomes. It’s important to begin the treatment early in the disease process,” said Dr. Sonal Bhakta, chief medical officer for Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas.
Michael Thames, director of hospice and pharmacy at Mercy Fort Smith, said the hospital began collaborating with Delta Medical Infusion on Aug. 23, allowing Mercy to administer infusions Monday-Friday, and increasing its capacity to serve patients in the River Valley. This was done in the hopes of decreasing symptoms, hospitalizations and ultimately deaths among area residents, he said.
Patients must be referred for the Regen-COV infusion or injection by their primary care provider after a positive COVID-19 test. They must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35
- Have chronic kidney disease, diabetes and/or immunosuppressive disease
- Are currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
- Are older than 65
- Are older than 55 and have:
- Cardiovascular disease, or
- Hypertension, or
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/other chronic respiratory disease
- Are 12-17 years year old and have:
- BMI greater than the 85th percentile for their age and gender based on CDC growth charts
- Sickle cell disease, or
- Congenital or acquired heart disease, or
- Neurodevelopmental disorders, for example, cerebral palsy, or
- A medical-related technological dependence, for example, Tracheostomy, gastrostomy, or positive pressure ventilation (not related to COVID-19), or
- Asthma, reactive airway or other chronic respiratory disease that requires daily medication for control
After treatment, patients should continue to self-isolate and use infection control measures including wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding sharing of personal items, cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces and frequent hand washing until they have been cleared by their physician.
Anyone who might be a candidate for this treatment should reach out to their primary care physician to inquire about eligibility and request a referral.