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COVID antivirals are here, but they are in short supply.Here’s what you need to know


Thomas Hansman / Pfizer

Two long-awaited COVID-19 pills Allow emergency use It is assigned to transport to states, but the supply is tight and deployments vary from state to state.

Pfizer’s Paxrovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir are both oral antivirals that can be taken at home to keep patients away from the hospital. They are intended to be taken within the first few days of having COVID-19, Reduce the risk of hospitalization and death Up to 88% for Paxlovid and up to 30% for molnupiravir.

For now, they Highest risk of developing a severe COVID-19 infection. People with weakened immunity, such as transplant patients and the elderly, are especially vulnerable. Many of the hundreds of thousands of people who test positive for coronavirus daily are not candidates for treatment.

Although the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is assigned around Paxlovid’s 65,000 treatment courses When Molnupiravir 300,000 courses Many people have not yet arrived at their destinations in states and programs across the country last week.

But it didn’t stop patients asking for them.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the tablets for emergency use shortly before Christmas.

Almost immediately, Dr. Sarah Darnberg, University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, Her colleague says she started receiving calls from patients asking for it.

“I think people are suddenly approved, so everyone will get it,” she says. “And there is the whole process of being assigned a drug and then sent to the hospital. Then we need to link it to an electronic prescription. These are new drugs. Confirm all these safety issues. You have to … and it’s a complicated process. “

The state health department can determine which clinic, hospital, community health department, or pharmacy will receive the shipment and then ship it.

But even those plans can vary widely from state to state.

For example, in Indiana, Paxlovid goes only to designated hospitals and molunpiravir goes only to designated pharmacies. But in Ohio, both drugs go to providers that are already set up to administer monoclonal antibodies.

“Because of limited supplies, the state is using existing monoclonal antibody providers to distribute medicines on the first day. As supplies become more accessible, the state will expand to additional providers.” Said Alicia Shoults, a spokesman for the Ohio Public Health Service. “Shipping will arrive directly at the provider within the next week.”

A shortage of supply means that it is not enough for everyone. For example, in Wyoming, only Paxlovid for 100 people is available this week.

This can mean that after receiving a prescription from your doctor, some patients will have to hunt around for the pharmacy that has it.

“Not all pharmacies do it all at once.” KurtProctor, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiative, National Community Pharmacists Association..

Federal government started List some places to dispense Paxlovid and molnupiravir..

However, it is unlikely that your regular pharmacy has a drug inventory. If your prescription is to be filled in an unfamiliar pharmacy, keep in mind that these tablets may interact with other drugs, especially Paxlovid. Catherine Yang, one of the pharmacists who has led the development of COVID treatments at the University of California, San Francisco, Here are some important tips.

“Patients need to be great defenders of their own, and when taking medication, let pharmacists and doctors know what other medications they are taking,” she says. Pharmacies you don’t usually go to may not know of other drugs that can warn you about potentially dangerous drug interactions.

Still, a few Walgreens pharmacies have begun to receive and dispense Paxlovid and Molnupiravir through a federal partnership. “Store locations are prioritized based on rapid drive-through testing capabilities, high levels of COVID-19 within the community, vaccination rates, and accessibility to high-risk, socially vulnerable populations. “More,” said Kelli Teno, a spokeswoman for Walgreens.

Supply is expected to increase, but in the long run there are not as many treatment courses as vaccines.

The United States has ordered 10 million courses of Paxlovid so far and plans to deliver them until next year. And it ordered 3.1 million courses of Molnupiravir. By comparison, the United States ordered 100 million doses of each of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines before they were first launched.

Dr. Helen Boucher, Interim Dean of Tufts University, It points out that these drugs are not a substitute for vaccination. “None of these treatments we’re talking about, whether antibodies, remdesivir, or pills, aren’t as effective as vaccination,” she says.

Copyright 2021 NPR. For more information, please visit

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