Emily Bendt was in her third trimester of pregnancy when she first heard the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had approved a new shot for infants to protect them from the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
By Oct. 5, Bendt was cuddling with her new baby, Willow, on the couch at home in Vancouver, Washington. She was excited to get Willow the new therapy for infants, called nirsevimab, which had started shipping in September — but Bendt, a pediatric home health nurse, couldn’t find it anywhere.
That very morning, at Willow’s two-week checkup, Bendt had asked the pediatrician when Willow could get it. “She literally just shrugged and was like, ‘Well, it’s coming, but we don’t know when,’” Bendt said. “I don’t know why I feel like I’m having to chase people down and still not get answers.”
Bendt searched online, too, for clinics or pharmacies or government websites offering nirsevimab — and found nothing.
By mid-October, demand for nirsevimab, sold under the brand name Beyfortus, had already outstripped supply, according to the pharmaceutical company Sanofi, which developed the drug with AstraZeneca.
In response, the CDC issued interim guidance Oct. 23 to help pediatricians allocate the limited supply of doses, advising them to focus on the infants at highest risk of RSV complications: those under 6 months old, and those with underlying medical conditions.
RSV is the leading reason babies under 12 months old end up in the hospital, and an estimated 100-300 kids under age 5 die from it in the U.S. every year.
Nirsevimab, a monoclonal antibody, is on …