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Sturm College of Law


COVID, Bioethics, FDA, Emergency use authorization, Monoclonal antibodies


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) for nonhospitalized patients with mild or moderate coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease and for individuals exposed to COVID-19 as postexposure prophylaxis. EUAs for oral antiviral drugs have also been issued. Due to increased demand because of the Delta variant, the federal government resumed control over the supply and asked states to ration doses. As future variants (e.g., the Omicron variant) emerge, further rationing may be required. We identify relevant ethical principles (i.e., benefiting people and preventing harm, equal concern, and mitigating health inequities) and priority groups for access to therapies based on an integrated approach to population health and medical factors (eg, urgently scarce healthcare workers, persons in disadvantaged communities hard hit by COVID-19). Using priority categories to allocate scarce therapies effectively operationalizes important ethical values. This strategy is preferable to the current approach of categorical exclusion or inclusion rules based on vaccination, immunocompromised status, or older age, or the ad hoc consideration of clinical risk factors.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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