How to get Paxlovid, a pill that helps prevent covid hospitalization: Shot

Pfizer COVID treatment can be a challenge to get Paxlovid fast.

Getty Images via Fabian Sommer / Picture Alliance

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Getty Images via Fabian Sommer / Picture Alliance

Pfizer COVID treatment can be a challenge to get Paxlovid fast.

Getty Images via Fabian Sommer / Picture Alliance

If you have just tested positive for COVID-19, and have a common risk factor for your serious illness, there are plenty of treatments available now – usually for little or no cost – to help you avoid the worst and recover faster. May or in moderate cases of covid.

Paxlovid, a five-day pill course from Pfizer, tops the list of recommended treatments. Studies by pharmaceutical manufacturers have shown that Paxlovid was about 90% effective in reducing the risk of hospitalization or death due to Covid – a risk factor for serious medical risk factors in non-vaccinated individuals.

Dr. Priya Norie, an infectious disease specialist at Montefiore Health System in the Bronx, New York, and a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says those who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from covid can still benefit from the drug. Taking Paxlovid “can help you get back on your feet faster, feel better quickly and potentially be less contagious,” Norie said.

The Biden administration is talking about treatment. “We want everyone to know about this effective drug and talk to their healthcare provider about whether they are eligible, and if they test positive, they should have a plan to access the drug,” he said. Meg Sullivan, Chief Medical Officer in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services Preparation and Response.

But some people have trouble getting the drug fast, while it can make a difference in the progression of the disease, despite the administration’s efforts, the drugs are readily available after a positive test for COVID-19.

Quick access to paxlovid can be a challenge

Dan Weissman, 54, tried three different routes to access Paxlovid in the Chicago area when he received Covid in April. First, no appointments were readily available at the nearby CVS Minute Clinic. Then, the nurse practitioner who went to the emergency care clinic initially misunderstood her medical condition and refused to prescribe the pills. Eventually, his wife seeks out his recently retired primary care doctor, who wrote him a prescription. Weissman is glad he got the pill; Her condition has improved since taking them. But he says it takes “unusual amounts of knowledge, connection and perseverance” to get them. Fortunately, Weissman, the host of the health podcast An arm and a leg, There were three.

Above New York, after a few days of covid symptoms, Pamela Cucos’ college-age son tested positive last Friday. “One of the reasons for his risk is; he seemed to be quite ill. And also, being in the middle of the final test, it would be better if he didn’t feel terrible for 10 days,” Cucos said. But the university’s health service was closed, and the nearest “examination for medical” location was not open on the weekends. She was able to book a telehealth appointment on Saturday in her home state of Maryland with her primary care doctor, who sent her a prescription to a pharmacy in New York. A friend walked 26 miles each way to pick it up. The sick student took the pill, recovered by Wednesday and went to finish his exam. “It was successful in the end, but it’s more complicated than it used to be,” Cucos said.

Covid pills are approved by the FDA for people at high risk of developing the disease – and in fact, increased supply has expanded the risk criteria, says Dr. Phyllis Tien, an infectious disease physician at the University of California, San Francisco who works at the Nationwide Health’s COVID-19 Treatment Guide Panel.

During the winter Omicron increase, pill supply was limited and many healthcare providers prescribed Paxlovid only to those who were most vulnerable due to old age or serious underlying illness. Now, health conditions such as high cholesterol, depression, smoking-related lung disease, obesity, not fully vaccinated or increased – all factors that increase a person’s risk of serious covid outcomes – may qualify a recently infected covid patient for a Paxlovid course. . “If anyone wants it and deserves it, they should be able to access it,” Tien said.

A prescription key

Antiviral pills require a prescription and should be started within five days of the onset of symptoms. To get a prescription you need to show positive COVID-19 test results 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 – cannot be 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-to-drug interactions,” said Jacinda Abdul-Mutakabbir, an assistant professor at Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy.

The drug can also be dangerous for those whose kidney or liver function is impaired.

For those who cannot take paxlovid, there are several other primary COVID-19 treatments that a healthcare provider may prescribe, such as remedicivir or monoclonal antibody infusion. Malnupiravir, Mark’s five-day pill treatment, is another option, although it is much less prescribed than paxlovid. In a clinical trial, Mark drug reduced hospital admissions by only 30%.

Common side effects of taking Paxlovid include metallic taste, diarrhea, high blood pressure and muscle aches – all temporary. Abdul-Mutakabbir says, “While these side effects are not ideal, they are definitely better than what we would see if these people go ahead and get severe COVID.”

Here are three ways to access COVID pills if you deserve them

Contact your primary care physician

For those who have health insurance and have access to a primary care provider or healthcare team, you can use it personally or telehealth to get tested (or to share your positive test results), to assess for risks and medications, and, if eligible, to obtain You can make an appointment. A prescription for pills.

You can then fill out the prescription at a nearby pharmacy.

Dr. Ulrika Wigart, a family medicine physician at CentraCare, Minnesota Sauke Center, says it can be helpful to have a provider who knows the history of your treatment, as well as the details of your current situation. “Did you check the first day? [of symptoms]? Did you take the test on the second day? How sick were you when you took the test? “And, if you start to feel better while taking the medicine, are the benefits of taking the medicine more than a risk?” Proper care can help guide you, he says.

Check out a test-to-treat site

Another way to get Paxlovid is to visit one of the 2,300 health centers, emergency care clinics and pharmacies that have been designated as “medical examination” sites by the government. These are locations that have the ability to determine on-site and have pills in hand.

“Individuals who do not have a healthcare provider, or are unable to access their healthcare provider in a short period of time … test-to-treatment locations offer testing and evaluation with the healthcare provider to determine if the drug is appropriate. , “Said Sullivan of HHS.

Test-to-treat location can be found on this map.

Sabrina Corlett, co-director of Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reform, said, “Before you go, make sure your health plans are fully covered, or at least you will only be subject to a nominal copayment.”

For those without insurance, some test-to-treat sites are federally qualified health centers that can provide low-cost COVID testing and treatment services to the uninsured.

Try emergency care online

For those who prefer telehealth visits – and can’t get a quick appointment through their primary healthcare provider – virtual health care platforms such as Plascare, EMD and Tropil Covid offer online visits to test, evaluate and prescribe drugs. Appointments are always available, and some may come out of pocket. A prescription may be sent to the nearest pharmacy, or you may be admitted and sent depending on what the service offers.

“This method is designed for this purpose only – for testing and treatment for covid,” said Norie of Montefiore. “You will get the service you need efficiently.” The downside, he said, is that they do not know your entire situation, such as the context of your home and your medical history. “They rely on you for all your medicines, herbal remedies,” 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 of time, experts recommend four steps:

  1. Get ready for a quick test, If you suspect you may have covid. “Make the tests available at home, or find out where you can access a test site,” Sullivan told HHS.
  2. Find out if you are a person with risk factors. Check if you have a condition that puts you at high risk for COVID and talk to your medical provider about COVID treatment to find out if you are eligible and to answer questions ahead of time.
  3. Check your insurance cover key, And find out where you can get timely advice. Services on the network are more likely to be covered by your insurance
  4. Find that stock Paxlovid Pharmacy near youSo you know where you can fill out a prescription.

And, stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccine, to protect yourself and the people around you from getting infected.

Now, a word of caution: although the pills themselves are free, there may be some out-of-pocket fees. Depending on whether you have insurance and whether your insurance covers it, there may be costs for you to check, get healthcare advice and prescriptions, and follow-up, says Corlett of Georgetown. To reduce costs, those who have health insurance should take care within the network whenever possible; For those who do not have insurance, a federally qualified health center can provide services for free or at very low cost, he said.

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