How to take Paxlovid tablets that help prevent COVID hospitalization: Flows


Treatment with Pfizer COVID Paxlovid may be difficult to obtain immediately.

Through Fabian Sommer / Picture Alliance Getty Images


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Through Fabian Sommer / Picture Alliance Getty Images


Treatment with Pfizer COVID Paxlovid may be difficult to obtain immediately.

Through Fabian Sommer / Picture Alliance Getty Images

If you have just tested positive for COVID-19 and you have a common risk factor for a serious illness, there are now a wide range of treatments available – usually low or no cost – that will help you avoid the worst and recover faster from a mild illness. or average COVID moment.

The five-day pill course from Pfizer is at the top of the list of recommended treatments for Paxlovid. Research by the drug manufacturer has shown that – in unvaccinated individuals at risk of serious COVID medical risk factors – Paxlovid was almost 90% effective in reducing the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID.

People who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID can still benefit from the drug, says the doctor. Priya Nori is a doctor of infectious diseases at the Montefior Health System in the Bronx and a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Taking Paxlovid “helps you get to your feet faster, feel better faster, and get an infection faster,” says Nori.

The Biden administration is discussing treatment. “We want everyone to know about this effective drug and talk to their healthcare providers about whether they are available and whether they should make a plan to get the drug,” the doctor said. Meg Sullivan, Chief Medical Officer, Assistant Secretary of Preparatory and Response, Department of Health and Human Services.

However, some people have had difficulty accessing medication quickly because, despite the administration’s efforts to facilitate access to medication after a positive test for COVID-19, it can change the progression of the disease.

Paxlovid may be difficult to access quickly

Dan Weissman, 54, who tried COVID in April, tried three different routes to gain access to Paxlovid in the Chicago area. First, the nearby CVS Minute Clinic was not ready for any appointments. Then, an ambulance nurse at first misunderstood her medical condition and refused to prescribe the pills. Eventually, his wife followed in the footsteps of his recently retired primary care physician and wrote him a prescription. Weissman is happy to have taken the pills; His condition improved after receiving them. But he said it took “exceptionally a lot of knowledge, connections and perseverance” to get them. Fortunately, Weissman is the host of the health podcast Hands and feet, all three were.

In the upper part of New York, after several days of COVID symptoms, Pamela Cucos ’college age was tested positive last Friday. “He has one of the risk factors; he seemed very ill. It would have been better if he hadn’t spent 10 days feeling scared because he was in the middle of graduation exams,” Kukos said. However, the university’s health service was closed and the location of the nearest “treatment test” was not open over the weekend. He managed to make an appointment for a telemedicine meeting on Saturday with his chief physician in Maryland, who sent a prescription to a pharmacy in New York State. A friend traveled 26 miles in each direction to get it. The sick student took the pills, recovered on Wednesday and completed his exams. “In the end, it was a success, but more difficult than required,” Kukos said.

Covid pills are approved by the FDA for people at high risk of developing the disease – and in fact, the risk criteria have expanded as delivery has increased, the doctor said. Phyllis Thien, an infectious disease doctor at the University of California, San Francisco, serves on the National Institutes of Health’s COVID-19 treatment instruction panel.

During the growing season of winter omicron, pills were limited and many health professionals prescribed Paxlovid only to those most vulnerable due to old age or serious underlying diseases. Now health conditions, such as high cholesterol, depression, smoking-related lung disease, obesity, incomplete vaccination or not – all factors that increase the risk of serious human COVID – qualify a Paxlovid course for a recently infected COVID patient. . “If someone wants it and has the right to it, they should be able to access it,” Tian said.

The recipe is the key

Antiviral pills require a prescription and should be started within five days of the onset of symptoms. To get a prescription, you must show a positive COVID-19 test and review your risk factors and the medication you are taking with your healthcare provider.

Paxlovid – a combination of two antiviral drugs called nirmatrelvir and ritonavir – is not taken at the same time as some common supplements and medications, including statins and some birth control pills. “There is a long list of drug interactions,” says Jakinda Abdul-Mutakabbir, an assistant professor at the Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy. you get the medicine.

The drug can also be dangerous for people with impaired kidney or liver function.

For those who cannot take paxlovid, there are several other early COVID-19 treatments that can be prescribed by a healthcare provider, such as an infusion of remdesivir or monoclonal antibodies. Treatment with molnupiravir, a five-day tablet from Merck, is another option, but it is less prescribed than Paxlovid. In a clinical trial, Merck drugs were reduced by 30%.

Common side effects of paxlovid include metallic taste, diarrhea, high blood pressure, and muscle aches — all temporary. “While these side effects are not ideal, they are better than what we have seen if these people come out and develop severe COVID,” says Abdul-Mutakabbir.

There are three ways to access COVID tablets if you are eligible to take them.

Contact a primary care physician

For people who have health insurance and have access to their primary care providers or health care team, you can go to a personal or telemedicine appointment to get tested (or share your positive results), assess risks and medications, and get them if available. recipe for tablets.

You can then get a prescription from a nearby pharmacy.

Having a provider who knows your medical history as well as your current condition can be very helpful, says Dr. Ulrika Wiegert is a family medicine practitioner at CentraCare in South Center, Minnesota. “Did you try it on the first day?” [of symptoms]? Did you try on the second day? How much pain did you have during the test? “And if you feel better after taking the medicine, do the benefits outweigh the risks?” Your provider will help you decide this on a patient-by-patient basis. “It will help you take the proper care course,” she says.

Go to the site to test

Another way to get Paxlovid is to visit one of the 2,300 health centers, ambulance clinics and pharmacies designated by the government as “test for treatment” sites. Here are the places where you can write a prescription and have pills available.

“For people who do not have a health care provider or are unable to access a health care provider for a short period of time … treatment sites offer testing and evaluation with a health care provider to determine if these medications are available. says Sullivan from HHS.

Test locations can be found on this map.

Sabrina Corlett, co-director of the Center for Health Insurance Reform at Georgetown University, said, “Check out the Health Plan.” fully covered, or at least you’re only subject to a nominal surcharge. “

For the uninsured, some screening sites are federally qualified health centers that can provide low-cost COVID testing and treatment services to the uninsured.

Try an ambulance online

Virtual health platforms such as Plushcare, eMed, and Truepill offer online trips to test, evaluate, and prescribe COVID medications for those who enjoy TV visits and are unable to make an urgent appointment through a primary care provider. Appointments are available at all hours and may come at some out-of-pocket expense. The prescription can be sent to the nearest pharmacy, or it can be filled out and sent to you, depending on what the service offers.

Nori Montefior: “The professional side of this method is that it is designed to test and treat COVID.” “You can get the service you need effectively.” Disadvantages, he says, are that they don’t know your full condition, such as your home context and medical history. “They trust you to treat them with all your medicines and herbs,” he says, but it can give you access to timely treatment.

What you can do ahead of time

If you are worried about getting COVID and want to plan ahead, experts recommend four steps:

  1. Be prepared for a quick test, if you suspect you have COVID. “Find out where the tests are at home or where you can access the test site,” Sullivan told HHS.
  2. Know that you are a person with risk factors. Check to see if you are at high risk for COVID infection and talk to your healthcare provider about COVID treatment options to find out if you are eligible and get early answers to your questions.
  3. Check what your insurance covers, and determine where to seek timely advice. In-network services are mostly covered by your insurance
  4. Find pharmacies near you that have Paxlovid stocksso you know where to fill out the recipe.

And be aware of your COVID-19 vaccines to help protect yourself and those around you from infection.

Now, a word of caution: while the pills themselves are free, there may be out-of-pocket payments. According to Georgetown Corlett, testing, getting health advice and prescriptions, and follow-up checkups can cost you more depending on whether you are insured and what your insurance covers. To reduce costs, health insurance providers should seek help from the industry as much as possible; The Federal Qualified Health Center can provide free or very affordable services for people without insurance, he says.

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