RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing across North Carolina, and two types of monoclonal antibodies considered ineffective against the omicron variant, people at high risk of complications are looking for treatment.
State health officials say North Carolina has an extremely small supply of two recently authorized COVID-19 treatment pills.
When the FDA recently authorized two types of pills to fight COVID, the news came with a catch – there is a very limited supply of the drugs.
Steve Adkins, owner of Health Park Pharmacy in Raleigh, says his store was one of just a handful of pharmacies in Wake County to receive the antiviral pills.
According to the state health department as of last week, North Carolina received 1,620 courses of Paxlovid, made by Pfizer, and 7,580 courses of Molnupiravir, made by Merck, for the entire state.
“The efficacy right now with Paxlovid is higher than that of Molnupiravir but with Paxlovid you have some hurdles with drug interactions,” explained Adkins.
Health Park Pharmacy is out of Paxlovid, but currently has enough Molnupiravir for about 100 people. That drug cannot be used in women who are pregnant or may become pregnant due to a risk of birth defects. Still, Adkins says he’s a little surprised it’s still available given our surge in cases.
“I think a number of providers have tried to be relatively conservative with prescribing, and rightly so,” he said. “But with patients who are over 65, patients that are unvaccinated, patients that are immunocompromised — any of those patient segments that do become positive, those are all going to be at higher risk for escalating progression of the disease.”
To get the treatment pills, you must be at high risk for complications and have a prescription — and time is of the essence. Adkins says many people don’t realize the pills must be taken within five days of the first symptoms.
If you do get a positive test, you’re high risk, and you’re interested in the antiviral pills, Adkins suggests calling your doctor or using a telehealth service so someone can evaluate whether you’re a good candidate for them and decide whether to prescribe them.
The state expects supplies to remain very limited over the coming weeks, but if you want to find out which pharmacies carry them, click here.