DORAL, FL – The COVID antiviral pill, Paxlovid, is expected to be in more than 30,000 sites by next week to eventually be in 40,000 locations, according to the White House.
The administration said Tuesday the treatment against COVID-19, which was first approved in December, will now be distributed directly to pharmacies, as well as existing distribution channels run by states.
Placing the COVID antiviral pill in pharmacies will boost availability to the general public just like it happened with the coronavirus vaccines more than a year ago, says the federal government.
“The bottom line is that we want to make this therapeutic available to all Americans,” Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said in an interview with CNN.
For this reason, the advice from President Joe Biden’s administration to doctors is to prescribe the pill without hesitation to eligible patients, since there is a big amount of supply for people at high risk of severe illness or death from the virus.
Eligible patients as per the Food and Drug Administration’s criteria are adults and children age 12 or older with a positive COVID-19 test and early symptoms who face the highest risk of severe outcomes. That includes older people and individuals with conditions like obesity and heart disease, though the drug manufactured by Pfizer is not recommended to patients with severe kidney or liver problems.
Paxlovid was initially very limited to people when COVID-19 cases were at a higher peak, but because cases in the U.S. have fallen and manufacturing has increased, there will be more accessibility, which is the goal settled by the White House.
The order is to send enough supply for 20 million people in the U.S., estimated to last for several more months. Subsequent deliveries are dependent on Congress approving additional COVID-19 response funding.
In addition, the administration also hopes to expand the number of test-to-treat sites that provide a one-stop shop for those with COVID-19 to get tested for the virus, consult with a medical professional if they’re positive and fill a prescription for Paxlovid on site. Currently there are 2,200 locations nationwide.
The COVID antiviral pill when administered within five days of symptoms, is able to reduce 90% in hospitalizations and deaths among patients most likely to get severe disease.
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