DORAL, FL — The COVID antiviral pill, Paxlovid, is expected to be in more than 30,000 locations by next week and eventually be in 40,000 locations, according to the White House.
The administration said Tuesday that the COVID-19 treatment, which was first approved in December, will now be distributed directly to pharmacies, as well as through existing state-run distribution channels.
Placing the COVID antiviral pill in pharmacies will increase availability to the general public, just as happened with coronavirus vaccines more than a year ago, the federal government says.
“The bottom line is that we want to make this therapy available to all Americans,” said White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha in an interview with CNN.
For this reason, President Joe Biden’s administration’s advice to physicians is to prescribe the pill without hesitation to eligible patients, as there is a large supply available for those at high risk of serious illness or death from the virus.
Eligible patients according to Food and Drug Administration criteria are adults and children 12 years of age or older with a positive COVID-19 test and early symptoms who face the highest risk of serious outcomes. This includes the elderly and people with obesity and heart disease, although the drug made by Pfizer is not recommended for patients with severe kidney or liver problems.
Paxlovid was initially very limited to people when COVID-19 cases were at a higher peak, but as cases in the United States have dropped and manufacturing has increased, there will be more accessibility, which is the target set by the White House.
The order is to send enough supplies for 20 million people to the United States, which is expected to last several more months. Further deliveries are dependent on Congressional approval of additional funding for the COVID-19 response.
In addition, the administration also hopes to increase the number of test-to-treat sites that provide one-stop shopping for people with COVID-19 to get tested for the virus, see a medical professional if positive, and complete a prescription from Paxlovid on the spot. Currently, there are 2,200 locations nationwide.
The COVID antiviral pill, when given within five days of symptoms, is able to reduce hospitalizations and deaths by 90% in patients most at risk of serious illness.
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