The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill to eligible patients.
The drug, Paxlovid, has been used in the United States to help prevent severe COVID-19 illnesses.
Paxlovid, which is an antiviral drug, has been available for free in the United States since December. It is effective for at-risk people who are newly infected with the virus.
However, only a little more than half of the nearly 4 million courses distributed to pharmacies by the government have been administered so far.
“Since Paxlovid must be taken within five days after symptoms begin, authorizing state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid could expand access to timely treatment for some patients,” Patrizia Cavazzoni, director for the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 should bring their health records to their pharmacist. The pharmacist should check the records for any possible kidney or liver problems, the agency said.
“When testing positive for COVID-19, patients should first consider seeking care from their regular health care provider or locating a Test-to-Treat site in their area,” the FDA said.
The American Medical Association (AMA) said in a statement that prescribing decisions should be made by a doctor wherever possible.
“It (Paxlovid) is not for everyone and prescribing it requires knowledge of a patient’s medical history, as well as clinical monitoring for side effects and follow-up care to determine whether a patient is improving,” said AMA President Jack Resneck.
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