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Posted by on Mar 2, 2022 in COVID-19 | No Comments

How Do The New COVID-19 Pills Work and Where Can You Get Them?

COVID-19 continues to be unpredictable throughout the world. Cases of the virus continue to rise and fall due to new variants. However, the FDA recently issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for two different COVID-19 pills to help fight against the virus.

These pills are Merck’s Molnupiravir and Pfizer’s Paxlovid, as they are both safe to be taken at home. While these pills aren’t a cure for COVID-19, they are an effective treatment option for many people dealing with these infections.

Who Can Take These COVID-19 Pills?
Both of these COVID-19 oral therapies are only available by prescription for treating mild to moderate cases. A patient will need to test positive for the virus, and they will need to be at a high risk of developing severe illness from infection, whether it’s diabetes, obesity, heart disease, or at least 60 years of age and older.

Currently, Pfizer’s Paxlovid is approved by the FDA for adults and children over 12 years of age to take this pill, while Merck’s Molnupiravir is limited to adults due to the potential of affecting bone and cartilage growth.

Why Do These Pills Require a Prescription?
Additional research and testing are needed for these pills to be available for everyone. These pills are also available in limited supply, as the FDA is restricting access because they are designed for helping patients with the highest risk of developing severe complications from the virus.

A physician will need to evaluate your health risks and advise you on the best treatment plan, as Paxlovid may interact with certain medications.

Can Pregnant Women Take COVID-19 Pills?
Merck’s Molnupiravir isn’t recommended by the FDA for pregnant women because of concerns that it can cause mutations in the DNA of an unborn fetus. However, Paxloavid may be prescribed to pregnant women based on their level of risk from COVID-19. Discussing all of your options with your healthcare provider is essential to determine your best course of action if you are pregnant and test positive with the virus.

How Does Pfizer’s Paxlovid Work?
According to the FDA, Paxlovid was nearly 90% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths for high-risk patients in a clinical trial. Paxlovid combines two treatments, which include Nirmatrelivr and Ritonavir for treating COVID-19.

Nirmatrelvir is a recently developed therapy that prevents the COVID-19 virus from replicating due to its ability to block a protein the virus needs. Ritonavir is an antiviral drug that slows the breakdown of Nirmatrelvir within the body, which helps it to work for a longer time. These drugs are only effective within the first five days of symptoms.

How Does Merck’s Molnupiravir Work?
Merck’s Molnupiravir wasn’t as effective as Pfizer’s during the initial clinical trials, according to the FDA. Initially, the treatment was 50% effective at lowering the risk of severe illness and death, but the efficacy eventually decreased to 30%. Molnupiravir interferes with the genetic code of the virus by preventing it from replicating.

However, there are some concerns that it can develop new variants due to its ability to induce mutations in the virus. The Molnupiravir treatment requires four capsules to be taken every 12 hours for five consecutive days, but it can’t be used any longer, according to the FDA.

Are These Pills Effective Against Omicron?
Initial clinical studies by Pfizer show that its COVID pill is effective against the Omicron variant, but more studies are needed to confirm these results. Both Paxlovid and Molnupiravir directly focus on preventing the virus from replicating, as these therapies may prove more effective at reducing hospitalizations and deaths for high-risk patients. These oral drug therapies may play a key role in helping to prevent patients from overwhelming the healthcare system.

Why Are Vaccines Recommended if We Have COVID-19 Pills?
The FDA still recommends vaccines and booster shots to provide the best defense against the virus. These COVID-19 pills aren’t preventative, but they are only designed for high-risk patients to take if they test positive for the virus. The manufacturing and distribution process of these pills will also take time, despite both Merck and Pfizer increasing production to meet the increasing demand for these treatments.

How Can I Get COVID-19 Pills?
COVID-19 pills are available if you have a prescription. However, they are only authorized for use during the initial five days of experiencing symptoms. Getting an early diagnosis is essential for receiving treatment if you or a loved one is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Advanced Urgent Care of Pasadena
Advanced Urgent Care of Pasadena offers COVID-19 testing and many other healthcare services. We can help you get the treatment you need, as our clinic is open seven days a week. Contact our team at Advanced Urgent Care of Pasadena to learn more!

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