Pfizer’s pill to treat COVID could be on pharmacy shelves

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A new drug that could keep you from getting sicker or dying from COVID-19 could soon be available.

Pfizer reports that its drug Paxlovid can reduce the risk of hospitalization by 89 percent.

It comes in the form of a pill taken in a 5-day regimen. Pfizer is set to ask the FDA for emergency use authorization as new concerns rise over a possible fifth surge in COVID cases.

“Obviously you’ve got to get the pill manufactured, you’ve got to get it distributed and it’s got to get to the local pharmacy and yes you would have to have a prescription just like any other drug,” said Dr. Tony Moody, director of the Duke CIVICs Vaccine Center and co-director of the Centers for Research of Emerging Infectious Disease Coordinating Center.

Moody said in most cases, those who test positive for COVID-19 and have been vaccinated will not need to take antivirals like Paxlovid.

“I think in general my answer would be no they probably don’t need the pill because in general even people who are testing positive are not the ones having overwhelming sickness and the ones winding up in the hospital. The vaccination really does seem to be good at preventing serious illness and hospitalization,” he said.

But, Moody adds that the vaccinated patients who are suffering a serious breakthrough case or who have underlying conditions may be prescribed antiviral treatment.

The health care community does not want drugs like Paxlovid to discourage people from getting vaccinated.

“I’m glad these have come on board. I wish people would look at the data rationally and realize the benefits of the vaccinations but certainly having this available I think is a positive for us” said Moody.

If the FDA moves quickly we could see Paxlovid on pharmacy shelves in the coming months.

“I would hope that we’d start to see some things available in December. I think by Thanksgiving is probably wishful thinking. But hopefully beginning of the year start of next year we’ll see it out there,” Moody added.

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