First antiviral COVID-19 pills make their way to local pharmacies

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 6:10 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services received its first allocation of antiviral COVID-19 pills Tuesday. The pills are authorized for emergency use and are in short supply. Some will arrive at local pharmacies as early as Friday.

“Everybody wants them and wants lots of them,” said Dr. Bartho Caponi, Chair of the University of Wisconsin Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.

There are only 940 courses of Paxlovid and just over 4,300 courses of Molnupiravir for all of Wisconsin this week.

“The benefit of all these therapies for people with coronavirus infections is to reduce their risk of dying and to reduce their risk of becoming severely ill to keep them out of the hospital,” said Dr. Caponi.

Molnupiravir was the first antiviral pill approved. Dr. Caponi said a study of unvaccinated people showed their was a 30% reduction of getting very sick and going to the hospital or dying.

“We hope that any reduction in the number of COVID-19 patients coming in is going to help all of us,” said Dr. Caponi.

He says Paxlovid could indirectly reduce stress on hospital staff even more. Dr. Caponi said a study found around 90% reduction in people getting sick and dying.

Since there is a limited supply, health professionals will be prescribing the medication based on risk factors. That includes older, unvaccinated, or immuno-suppressed people will be the best candidates.

They’ll also have to have a confirmed positive test for coronavirus within five days of symptom onset.

While these antiviral pills may be a game changer, Dr. Caponi said they shouldn’t be your only form of protection from the virus.

“The best data for these pills were in unvaccinated patients, but these therapies are not a substitute for vaccination.” said Caponi.

For more information about the pills click here.

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