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UPMC and Heritage Valley Health System are partnering to make the monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 more widely available on an outpatient basis in western Pennsylvania.

Monoclonal antibodies are a type of medication that seeks out the COVID-19 virus in a person’s body and blocks it from infecting their cells and replicating. Monoclonal antibody treatment reduces the risk of death and the need for hospitalization in people who receive it soon after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

The two health systems will pool their supply of monoclonal antibodies and use the extensive UPMC network of infusion centers to provide patients with the treatment, which is given through a one-time, outpatient intravenous infusion.

“This treatment has potential to drastically cut the number of people in our communities who get hospitalized with COVID-19 complications and reduce deaths from this disease,” said Donald M. Yealy, MD, chief medical officer at UPMC. “It is most effective if given within 10 days of diagnosis, and the sooner the better. By partnering with Heritage Valley, we will improve access for patients.”

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“Heritage Valley has helped ensure that COVID-19 testing and vaccines are available in the community,” said Michael Cratty, MD, PhD, chief medical officer at Heritage Valley Health System. “This collaboration with UPMC will expand our patients’ access to this important COVID-19 outpatient treatment. Monoclonal antibodies provide an early COVID-19 treatment opportunity for those with elevated risk factors.”

Patients currently eligible for the treatment are people at higher risk of a poor outcome from COVID-19, including those ages 65 or older, those who are obese, and those with chronic health conditions like diabetes or lung disease. Younger adults and children over age 12 with certain conditions, including asthma, also may be eligible.

UPMC has treated nearly 2,400 patients with monoclonal antibody treatment at 18 infusion centers across Pennsylvania and in New York and Maryland. The treatment also is offered to homebound people through a home-infusion service, and in emergency departments, nursing homes, and behavioral health centers in the UPMC system.

Heritage Valley is supplying UPMC with its allotment of monoclonal antibodies from the federal government and will refer qualifying patients to UPMC infusion centers for the treatment, although the patients will remain under the care of their Heritage Valley physicians.

The U.S. supply of monoclonal antibodies is taxpayer-funded and the medication is given without charge to the institutions that administer it. Currently, UPMC Health Plan waives copayments and deductibles for administering the treatment.

Patients and providers can find out more about monoclonal antibody treatment by visiting upmc.com/AntibodyTreatment or by calling 866-804-5251.

To read this release online or share it, visit http://www.upmc.com/media/news/050521-mAbs-UPMC-HVHS.

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations in central and western Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.