'A very daunting task': Monkeypox treatment delayed by red tape, physicians say

Physicians are frustrated with the process required to treat monkeypox patients and obtain a prescription for Tpoxx, — the antiviral being used to treat the infection, The Washington Post reported July 15. 

Prescription requirements to get the medicine from the Strategic National Stockpile are time-consuming and likely causing delays or preventing patients from getting treated altogether. 

"It's been a very daunting task," Roy Gulick, MD, chief of the division of infectious diseases at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, told the Post. "There's a ton of paperwork. there's a ton of assessments that are required. There's a tremendous amount that one has to do to be able to administer this drug to someone." 

Physicians are urging federal health agencies to relax the rules limiting Tpoxx prescriptions, such as collecting multiple specimens and photos from each patient. 

HHS spokesperson Sarah Lovenheim told the Post providers "in any medical setting can access TPoxx expeditiously for their patients," adding that requests can go through both state health departments or directly to the CDC. "CDC does not require paperwork on the front end … and is working with FDA to streamline post-administration monitoring and data requirements." 

But physicians on the front line said they have yet to see changes in the prescription requirements. 

“Making every physician for every patient go through hours and hours of paperwork and back- and-forth with the agencies, that’s just not a sustainable approach,” said Amanda Jezek, senior vice president of public policy and government relations at the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “We know that there are a lot of patients that are missing out entirely on treatment, or getting serious delays in treatment as a result.”

The time-consuming medication requirements are among a slew of issues experts say are curbing the nation's ability to get ahead of the virus. Test result delays and inadequate vaccine supply other key barriers from keeping up with the virus' spread. More than 1,800 cases have been confirmed in the U.S. as of July 15, according to the CDC. The actual number of cases is likely much higher, given reporting delays between local health departments and the CDC, the Post reports. 

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