US allows pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer’s COVID pill – WSB-TV Channel 2

0

WASHINGTON — (AP) — Pharmacists can prescribe the leading COVID-19 pill directly to patients under a new U.S. policy announced Wednesday that aims to expand the use of Pfizer’s drug Paxlovid.

The Food and Drug Administration said pharmacists can start screening patients to see if they are eligible for Paxlovid and then prescribe the drug, which has been shown to curb the worst effects of COVID-19. Previously, only doctors could prescribe the antiviral drug.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths rise again, although they remain near their lowest levels since the coronavirus outbreak began in 2020.

Biden administration officials have expressed frustration that several hundred Americans continue to die daily from COVID-19, despite the availability of vaccines and treatments.

Administration officials have been working for months to increase access to Paxlovid, opening thousands of sites where patients who test positive can fill a prescription for Paxlovid. The FDA change will make thousands more pharmacies eligible to quickly prescribe and dispense the pill, which must be used early to be effective.

“Given that Paxlovid must be taken within five days of symptom onset, allowing state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid could expand access to prompt treatment,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the treatment center. FDA drugs.

Still, usage might be limited by paperwork requirements. Patients are expected to bring their recent health records – including blood tests – and a list of their current medications so pharmacists can check that Paxlovid will not negatively interact with other medications. Alternatively, pharmacists may consult with the patient’s physician.

Paxlovid is for people with COVID-19 who are more likely to get seriously ill. This includes older people and those with other health conditions like heart disease, obesity, cancer or diabetes that make them more vulnerable.

The FDA cleared Paxlovid last December based on results showing it reduced hospitalizations and deaths by nearly 90% in unvaccinated patients most at risk of serious illness. The drug has shown less impressive results in patients who already have vaccine protection and some doctors have reported cases of COVID-19 symptoms coming back after treatment with the drug.

Expanding the test and treat program to include pharmacists could add thousands more options for patients. The two largest U.S. drugstore chains — CVS Health and Walgreens — operate about 19,000 locations combined.

CVS Health is already providing COVID-19 care at 1,100 clinics inside pharmacies.

There are also nearly 19,400 independent pharmacies not affiliated with a major chain, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Pharmacist Michele Belcher said before the announcement that she hoped to be able to test customers for COVID-19 and offer the pill because there is a shortage of primary care doctors in her community, the small town of Grants Pass, in southwestern Oregon.

Belcher said she was concerned some people would have trouble getting a doctor’s appointment for a prescription during the narrow window to start the pill.

Belcher, owner of independent pharmacy Grants Pass, said she used to test and treat COVID-19 using injectable drugs that are no longer as effective.

Her pharmacy routinely checks for potentially harmful interactions with other medications a patient may be taking, she said.

“Pharmacists are the drug experts,” she said. “It’s something we do every day, all day, to make sure there are no drug interactions.”

___

Murphy reported from Indianapolis.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Share.

Comments are closed.