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UPMC: Injections working as well as IV for recovery

Series of shots takes place of intravenous infusions

Monoclonal antibody therapy involving four quick injections works “essentially” as well in helping patients recover from COVID-19 as the more cumbersome intravenous infusions, according to a recent UPMC clinical trial.

The injection routine has allowed UPMC to double the number of patients it can help with monoclonal therapy — which largely prevents hospitalization and death for those who qualify under Food and Drug Administration rules, according to Erin McCreary, infectious disease pharmacist at UPMC and panelist in a virtual news conference Thursday.

The UPMC study is the first of its kind that shows injections work as well as infusions and was conducted in keeping with the FDA’s authorization for providers to administer shots when IV infusions aren’t feasible or would lead to treatment delays, the participants said.

The four injections, given in a single session, generally at different sites on the body, take less time, are easier to administer and can be given by more types of health care workers in more locations, according to McCreary and another UPMC official.

UPMC switched to injections at most of its outpatient centers when a recent surge in COVID-19 patients occurred, taking advantage of the FDA permission, according to McCreary.

The study involved 2,000 patients over 28 days, comparing results for those who got shots and those who got IVs, and also included a comparison with similar patients who received no treatments.

The ones who received treatments were 60 percent less likely to need hospitalization or to die than those who got nothing, she said.

The study was conducted with Regeneron’s combination of casirivimab and imdevimab — the treatment which the FDA OK’d for shots.

Previously, clinical trials had only studied IV infusion, based on the “perceived benefit” of sending the antibodies directly into the bloodstream, where “the whole dose” could act quickly, avoiding the need to be absorbed, McCreary said.

Monoclonal antibody treatment is authorized for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 and with certain characteristics like pregnancy, advanced age, compromised immune system or chronic health condition, McCreary said.

Monoclonal antibody treatment needs to be administered as soon as possible after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, the participants said.

People who are interested can find out more at upmc.com/coronavirus/monoclonal-antibodies; or by calling 866-804-5251.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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