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Is the COVID-19 treatment Trump received available in Colorado?

Some Coloradans are asking if they can get the same COVID-19 treatment as President Trump. We asked two infectious disease specialists about available treatments.

DENVER — Some Coloradans are asking if they can receive the same COVID-19 treatment as President Trump.

9NEWS reporter Anusha Roy talked to two infectious disease specialist with Health One and Denver Health to ask about treatments that are accessible in Colorado. 

What about access to Remdesivir?

Dr. John Hammer, an infectious disease specialist with Rose Medical Center and Health One, said he's already had requests for the treatment received by the president.

"We had a patient come in elderly gentlemen with respiratory distress and was intubated in the emergency room this week," Hammer said. "Spoke to his son about therapies and the potential use of Remdesivir. The son, the first thing out of his mouth was, 'just give my dad what Trump got.'"

There are multiple components to the president's treatment that people are asking questions about including Remdesivir, Dexamethasone and treatment involving monoclonal antibodies.

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) said Remdesivir is widely available to hospitals in Colorado. 

Hammer said that is true, but that doctors still need to be mindful of the supply since it's not unlimited. He said the experimental drug can help some patients get better a bit faster. 

Hammer also said Rose Medical Center and other health one facilities are on the cusp of running out of their free supply of Remdesivir given though the federal government and the manufacturer. 

"We are in a period over the next several weeks," said Dr. Hammer. "We will likely be transitioning from a free drug to a drug you have to pay for."

UCHealth said their free supply has been used, but that there's not a shortage. They just have to pay for it. 

The federal government said it no longer needs to oversee distribution of Remdesivir because it's no longer a scarce resource. Gilead, the drug manufacturer, said that after donating 1.5 million vials globally hospitals can now buy the drug directly from them.  

At Denver Health, Dr. Connie Price, walked through what's included in treatment for COVID-19 patients. 

"Remdesivir and Dexamethasone are our standard treatments for those who need supplemental oxygen," Price said.

She said they still have a solid supply of Remdesivir. 

PREVIOUS: US regulators allow remdesivir for all hospitalized coronavirus patients

How will the end of free Remdesivir from the federal government impact costs? 

UCHealth said they aren't passing along any additional costs to patients. 

The Colorado Association of Health Plans also that said because Remdesivir has Emergency Use Authorization from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there should be insurance coverage if a doctor and the insurance coverage determine the treatment is necessary. 

However, if there are any out of pocket costs, the outcome will depend on that person's insurance plan. 

Dr. Hammer did offer a caveat about the effectiveness of Remdesivir; "Emergency use cuts both ways. It makes the drug more available, but it also undercuts the ability to know how well the drug actually works." 

Can people access the monoclonal antibody treatment? 

Monoclonal antibody treatments are still in clinical studies, including the experimental antibody cocktail developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, that was given to Trump. 

PREVIOUS: Regeneron antibody cocktail used in clinical trials to fight COVID-19 at UCHealth

The president has access to different resources than the general public, and was able to access this treatment through compassionate use. 

Dr. Connie Price, the chief medical officer and infectious disease specialist with Denver Health, said that is done through a special application. 

"The way he got the drug was unique," Price said. "Very few people in this country have been able to obtain that particular drug through that route."

Instead, Price and Hammer both said the best bet for most people is enrolling in a clinical trial, if they meet the criteria. That means someone seeking that specific treatment could either get the actual drug or a placebo.  

Clinical studies are happening locally, including at Denver Health and UCHealth.

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