Access to one COVID antiviral is expanding

Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 7:39 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - As COVID cases go up again, there’s a focus on people having access to treatment.

Three pills, two times a day for five days — that’s the rundown of the COVID antiviral Paxlovid.

“It can reduce, you know, severity of symptoms, and the way that the virus is affecting the body,” explained family physician Dr. Laura Miller.

You’ve needed a prescription to get the drug up until now. As of Friday, pharmacists can administer the drug directly to patients. Doctors caution that it’s not a simple ask.

“This is a place where, you know, if you have mild symptoms, you are high risk, you might would consider talking to the pharmacists, talking through your conditions,” described Dr. Jennifer Bryan, Mississippi State Medical Association District 4 Trustee. “And as long as they have access to your kidney function and your list of medications and you meet those criteria, you know, it would be an opportunity in that situation. But it’s not; it’s certainly not a catch-all for everyone.”

Wait, kidney function, list of medications? Yes, this is the checklist that pharmacists will have to be able to complete before handing over a box of Paxlovid because there are a lot of drug interactions. However, pharmacist Dr. Andrew Clark says it just makes sense considering they are already providing testing at their office.

“So, you able to step to the counter to the pharmacy, and we know that most patients are within three to five miles from a pharmacy,” said the Northtown Pharmacy owner. “So, they’re close to pharmacy, and the fact that we will have this as a tool to fight COVID-19 is great. What’s good about that is that patients no longer have to travel from one location to the next location in order to receive treatment.”

Clark says if it’s a pharmacy you typically use, they should already have a history of what you’re prescribed, which takes care of one part of the protocol.

“The other benefit is that our pharmacy hours sometimes are extended beyond our office hours,” added Dr. Miller. “So it allows patients to have a discussion with a health care professional, which pharmacists obviously do with medications all day and are very familiar with interactions and risk and things like that. So I think it just expands access a little bit.”

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