Rochester running low on RSV drug for children; Schumer pushes for more supply

RSV Treatment Shortage

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Local pediatricians are running out of the new treatment for a virus that frequently sends its youngest patients to the hospital.

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, peaks in the winter. It causes cold-like symptoms – runny nose, fever – and a lot of trouble breathing. In infants, it can be dangerous.

In the past few months, the area has had hundreds of hospitalizations for RSV, the overwhelming majority of whom are infants.

There’s a treatment that helps reduce the chances that a child will need hospitalization, but Rochester pediatricians are running out.

But help may be coming from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Democratic U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, in Rochester Monday, said he’s pushing both agencies to get Beyfortus into the hands of pediatricians.

The medication introduces babies to the RSV antibodies they don’t yet have, similar to the way a vaccine works. The doctors at Rochester Regional health say one dose makes a baby 80 percent less likely to be hospitalized.

But, it was only approved a couple of months ago, and there have been hiccups with the rollout. Some areas in the country have a surplus of the drug. Others, like Rochester, have used up their supply. That’s partly because RSV spreads faster in colder environments.

Terra Keller’s toddler Joey was hospitalized for RSV in 2021, before Beyfortus was approved. She encourage all parents to get the vaccine for their children.

“It’s not from a place of judgement on how people choose medical care for their families. But given the worry and how scary it was seeing our tiny son not being able to breath, I would encourage families just to do the shot to prevent that,” Keller said.

Schumer says he has two steps to help get Beyfortus to local pediatricians. The first is to get the CDC and FDA to redistribute existing doses. The second is to work with manufacturers and their subcontractors to prioritize vaccine development for the next few months.

“We need to get more shots out to this area, and get them out fast and the CDC can do that right away. They have the power to do it,” Schumer said.