PrEP4All Calls On Federal Government To Urgently Address Racial Disparities In Access To Monkeypox Treatment
For Immediate Release:
New York, NY (August 26, 2022)–On August 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted new data on its website about the demographics of people with monkeypox receiving the most effective antiviral treatment, tecovirimat (brand name TPOXX, manufactured by SIFA Pharmaceuticals). Compared with data from July 2022, the CDC data from August numbers show alarming racial disparities in prescriptions among Black people compared to those who identify as white, Latino/Hispanic or Asian.
“Black people with monkeypox are not being prescribed in proportion with the number of cases in the Black community,” said Kenyon Farrow, PrEP4All Managing Director. “This gap opened up during the same period in which cases in the United States tripled. Black communities impacted by monkeypox are not receiving the resources for peer and provider education, and jurisdictions around the country are dragging their heels in providing treatments and vaccines. Black people bearing the brunt of this inaction.”
Tecovirima is an antiviral used to treat lesions, sores, and painful symptoms caused by monkeypox. TPOXX may also reduce the risk of onward transmission by speeding the time of healing for monkeypox sores and lesions.
According to the CDC’s latest data, as of August 14, Black people people make up 33.3% of the US population diagnosed with monkeypox, but only 15.6% of people with monkeypox who have received treatment. As August 14, White, hispanic/Latino and Asian individuals make up 30.6, 31.8 and 3.3 percent of monkeypox diagnoses respectively. Looking solely at people with monkeypox who had been prescribed TPOXX, and for whom CDC reported complete data as of August 18, 40.2 percent were white, 35.2 percent were hispanic/Latino, 15.6 percent were Black and 3.1 percent were Asian.
White people with monkeypox were over-represented among those receiving TPOXX prescriptions; Asian and hispanic/Latino individuals received prescriptions at rates that roughly aligned with their representation in the US monkeypox outbreak. But Black people, who make up one third of monkeypox cases, received just 15 percent of the prescriptions.
The number of people of all races receiving TPOXX whose doctors have submitted the paperwork required by CDC remains below 500–even as cases of monkeypox have soared past 15,000 as of August 25. The US government has currently provided states and jurisdictions with enough TPOXX to treat 75 percent of cases–yet less than three percent of people with monkeypox have received prescriptions to date.
PrEP4All published these findings in the latest MPOX Alert, a weekly monkeypox bulletin geared towards activists and community members concerned about the monkeypox response.
“While the government barriers that were in place early in the monkeypox outbreak made it unnecessarily difficult for anyone to get access to TPOXX, it is no less upsetting to see that Black people are least likely to get their symptoms treated than other groups,” said Farrow “Not only do we need to make it much easier for providers to prescribe and access, providers need to also be offering TPOXX to Black patients as they do for anyone else.”
Unlike vaccines, delayed and limited access to TPOXX is not a supply issue, as there is more than enough treatment available to treat current monkeypox cases in the U.S., with 20,000 treatment courses currently available for the more than 15,000 people diagnosed with monkeypox to date. A major barrier to distribution is the CDC classifying TPOXX as a “non-research Expanded Access Investigational New Drug,” or EA-IND. Classifying TPOXX as an EA-IND is a way of saying that more data needs to be collected about the medication before it can be prescribed freely, without reporting back to the CDC or other regulatory authorities.
PrEP4All calls on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to declare an emergency use authorization (EUA) for TPOXX, as it has for the current dosing regimen of the JYNNEOS vaccine. Removing the drug’s stats as an EA-IND, is crucial to making it easier to prescribe and expanding access. “The US government has said that the EA IND needs to be in place so data can be collected. But the data are incomplete, slow and alarming in what they do show: sluggish access and racial disparities. Remove the EA IND and declare an EUA now,” said James Krellenstein, Managing Director of Strategy & Policy with PrEP4All.
State health departments and jurisdictions are also in dire need for funds for efforts to deliver TPOXX to communities in need. CDC must fund culturally inclusive delivery models, while also collecting and reporting weekly data on TPOXX delivery, including demographic information and what delivery models have been most effective for rapid initiation of treatment.
Click the button below to download PrEP4All’s latest MPOX Alert for more information on calls to action to address domestic and global disparities in access to monkeypox treatment.