Tower Health Unit Administers New COVID-19 Drug

WEST READING PA – A coronavirus treatment recently approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, intended to benefit those age 12 and older if administered as soon as possible after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, was received by a “limited number” of test-positive outpatients during the week of Nov. 23 (2020) at Tower Health‘s Reading Hospital, the non-profit said Tuesday (Dec. 8).

Prospective patients also must meet other criteria. Age-appropriate adults and pediatric patients are those who are “at high risk for progressing to a severe case of COIVD-19 or hospitalization,” Tower reported. They also must receive the drug within 10 days of the onset of illness symptoms.

The treatment drug, developed by Eli Lilly and named bamlanivimab, was accepted by the FDA under “emergency use authorization” provisions. Emergency use status “allows new medications that have passed general safety tests, and have preliminarily demonstrated effectiveness, to move ahead to commercial distribution” while some studies are continuing, Tower added.

Future treatments, given as an infusion, will be administered in a recently converted unit on the fourth floor of E-Building at Reading Hospital’s main campus. It was selected, according to Tower, because patients will have access to a dedicated entrance and elevator that will take them directly to the unit, separating them from other patients.

Dr. Debra Powell, chief of Division of Infectious Disease, and medical director for infection prevention at Reading Hospital, said officials “are pleased with the early results of bamlanivimab. We are excited that Reading Hospital will be able to provide this as another option to treat our patients while likely decreasing hospitalizations.”

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