U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has sent a letter to Dr. Janet Woodcock, Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), regarding the agency’s recent guidance that race and ethnicity should be a factor in determining which patients receive life-saving COVID-19 treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies and oral antiviral drugs.
Following the guidance, state health departments have instituted race-based criteria for administering other COVID-19 treatments, giving preference to non-white and Hispanic patients because they are considered high risk. The New York health department, for example justifies its discrimination by alleging “systemic health and social inequities.”
“One’s race or ethnicity should not be the driving factor that decides whether or not you live,” Sen. Rubio says in his letter to Woodcock.
“Rationing life-saving drug treatments based on race and ethnicity is racist and un-American. There is no other way to put it,” the Florida senator says.
“This latest action illustrates how far woke Democrats are willing to go in their quest to further divide America based on the color of our skin, Rubio says. “Everyone that is at high risk should have a fair shot at our nation’s growing arsenal of COVID-19 therapeutics.”
If, as the FDA says, preference should be given to high-risk patients, then it should be based only on medically-established high-risk factors, such as obesity, pregnancy, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular respiratory disease - not merely race or ethnicity, Rubio writes.
The full text of Rubio’s letter calling the FDA to revise its stance is below.
Dear Acting Commissioner Woodcock:
“I write with regard to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent guidance to healthcare providers that outlines which patients should be prioritized to receive COVID-19 treatments, and Democrats’ attempt to include an individual’s race and ethnicity as a primary factor for receiving treatment. A fact sheet for healthcare providers using the monoclonal antibody, sotrovimab, states that race and ethnicity can be considered ‘medical conditions or factors [that] may also place individual patients at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19…‘ As a result, some state health departments, including the New York Department of Health, have followed suit by establishing race-based criteria for administering other COVID-19 treatments. Their December 27, 2021 notice stated that oral antiviral drugs should go to patients that ‘have a medical condition or other factors that increase their risk for severe illness. Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.‘
“While our nation should seek to better understand and address real disparities that exist in health outcomes, that important work is a far cry from the rationing of vital medicines based on race and ethnicity. Rationing life-saving drug treatments based on race and ethnicity is racist and un-American. There is no other way to put it.
“Healthcare providers should focus on individual medical conditions that research shows puts patients at higher risk. Appropriate factors include individuals 65 years or older, those who are obese, pregnant, suffering from chronic kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and other conditions. Medical research has long documented that many of these comorbidities disproportionately impact people of color. Therefore, by prioritizing an individuals’ medical history, healthcare providers would ensure racial minorities at highest risk of disease, including all other high-risk patients, can receive these life-saving drugs.
“This latest action illustrates how far woke Democrats are willing to go in their quest to further divide America based on the color of our skin. One’s race or ethnicity should not be the driving factor that decides whether or not you live. Everyone that is at high risk should have a fair shot at our nation’s growing arsenal of COVID-19 therapeutics.
“I call on the FDA to immediately update its guidance to prioritize patients based on their medical history and not on their race or ethnicity. Further, I urge the FDA to notify all state health departments to instruct them to do the same.
“Thank you for your attention to this issue, and I look forward to your prompt resolution of this matter.”