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Schumer, at Upstate, urges action on bringing more potentially life-saving RSV drug to CNY

Upstate Medical University physicians and others from the local community flanked U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer who came to Upstate Monday to urge the federal government and medicine manufacturers to increase supplies of the RSV drug that can keep infants from getting severely ill.

RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is a virus that causes acute respiratory infection in individuals of all age groups. While most infants and young children experience mild, cold-like symptoms, some infants, especially with their first infection, develop lower respiratory tract disease such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis (swelling of the small airway passages in the lungs), which often leads to an emergency department or physician office visit.

Speaking at the press conference, Upstate Golisano pediatrician Jana Shaw, MD, MPH, said access to drug is much-needed, noting that since last fall RSV has brought many children to the hospital and surrounding clinics as kids experienced difficulty breathing and other symptoms associated with the disease.

The RSV drug, Beyfortus, (nirsevimab) became available thanks in part to a clinical trial conducted by Upstate pediatrician Joseph Domachowske, MD. Three area babies were among the first in the world to get the antibody as part of the trial conducted at Upstate.

In a letter to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Schumer said it is imperative that with new doses being distributed, those vaccines get to pediatric clinics on the frontlines ASAP, like those in Central NY, who have been seeing vaccine shortages. Schumer said it is especially important to get these doses to pediatricians because they are the first line of defense in protecting children and most often where parents go first. Secondly, the senator said it is vital the drug manufacturers work with all levels of the federal government to ramp up supply now, fix supply chain issues so that all those who need the vaccines can get it.

Upstate President Mantosh Dewan, MD, thanked Schumer for his work to increase the availability of Beyfortus in the region.  “We are proud that scientists at Upstate have been part of the international effort to develop these incredible medical breakthroughs, but they only can be effective if parents have reliable access to them,” he said.

Caption: Jana Shaw, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics and public health and preventive medicine, holds a box of the drug Beyfortus, used to protect babies against RSV, at an Upstate press conference hosted by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer. The senator called on federal regulators to increase the amount of the drug available to many regions of the state. Looking on is Upstate President Mantosh Dewan, MD.