Paxlovid: A Treatment for COVID-19
Paxlovid, an antiviral drug that received an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the final days of 2021, has made headlines as a treatment for COVID-19, but is it an option for you?
Paxlovid, taken orally, stops the virus from multiplying, according to Dr. Alina Filozov, chief of Infectious Disease at Middlesex Health. If you begin using this medication within five days from the start of your symptoms, you decrease your chances of worsening symptoms and hospitalization by 88 percent.
You can get Paxlovid at many — but not all — pharmacies in Connecticut, along with another similar antiviral option called Legevrio. However, you do need a prescription from a medical provider.
All health systems in Connecticut, including Middlesex Health, also have Paxlovid available and can prescribe and dispense it to patients in Emergency Departments and doctor’s offices when needed.
Dr. Filozov says Paxlovid is prescribed if you are deemed high risk for severe COVID-19 and, like any medication, if there is no indication that the medication will be harmful. While Paxlovid is adjusted for a patients’ renal (kidney) function, those with severe kidney dysfunction cannot take it.
Conditions that put someone at high-risk of severe COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Being a smoker or having a history of smoking
- Having lung disease
- Having heart disease
- Carrying excess weight
- Having an compromised immune system
- Having a psychiatric illness
- Having a developmental illness
“The earlier you start taking this oral antiviral medicine, the faster you will get better,” says Dr. Filozov, explaining that those with severe immune deficiencies may be offered monoclonal antibody therapy instead of a medication like Paxlovid.
It recommended that you take Paxlovid with food because it has a peculiar taste and aftertaste. Reported side effects include a low risk of nausea, diarrhea, headache and body aches. At this time, there is no data that indicates that Paxlovid is safe to take during pregnancy, but animal data does suggest that it is.
Antivirals for COVID-19, such as Paxlovid, have been purchased by the U.S. government and available for free during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
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