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Officials boost access to a drug that can protect the immunocompromised from COVID-19

A box of Evusheld, an antibody therapy developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the prevention of COVID-19 in immunocompromised patients, is seen in February at the AstraZeneca facility for biological medicines in Sweden
Jonathan Nackstrand
/
AFP via Getty Images
A box of Evusheld, an antibody therapy developed by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the prevention of COVID-19 in immunocompromised patients, is seen in February at the AstraZeneca facility for biological medicines in Sweden

The federal government is trying to make it easier for immunocompromised patients to access a treatment that can protect them against COVID-19 by allowing individual health care providers to order small amounts — up to three patient courses at a time, according to a Health and Human Services Department spokesperson.

"This new pathway will be particularly beneficial for health care providers in rural areas and others that do not have a large pool of patients requiring the therapy," the spokesperson said.

In addition, Evusheld will be available through a subset of federal pharmacy partners, including Albertsons, Acme, Jewel-Osco, Pavilions, Randalls, Safeway, Star Market, and Vons, CPESN, Amber Specialty Pharmacy, Managed Healthcare Associates and Thrifty White.

The government is also working with AstraZeneca, which makes Evusheld, to set up a toll-free number (1-833-EVUSHLD — 1-833-388-7453) to make it easier for health care providers to get information about the treatment, including how to order it.

Evusheld consists of two antibodies that are injected, and can help protect patients for up to six months.

The Biden administration has secured 1.7 million doses of Evusheld.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rob Stein is a correspondent and senior editor on NPR's science desk.