Pfizer's antiviral Covid-19 drug available for prescription next week

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Health Minister Andrew Little has confirmed that Paxlovid, a Pfizer-made antiviral treatment for Covid-19, will be available via prescription to patients next week, as the first shipment of the drug arrived in the country ahead of schedule.

This month, Medsafe approved Paxlovid, and 60,000 courses will be accessible this year. Medsafe is also evaluating Molnupiravir, an oral antiviral medication.

Antivirals are provided to immunocompromised persons and others who are deemed vulnerable after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Paxlovid now joins the four treatments used in hospital (Baricitinib, Ronapreve, Remdesivir and Tocilizumab) and vaccines available to fight Covid-19.

People will be eligible if they are immunocompromised or have numerous other risk factors indicated by the Ministry of Health, in addition to being symptomatic and within the first five days of symptoms developing. Chronic heart or lung illness, poorly controlled diabetes or hypertension, and being 65 or 50 years old and not having finished a full course of vaccination are all examples.

“Access to Paxlovid will be tight to make sure it gets to the people who need it most. It will be prescribed by doctors, with factors such as age, disability and being immuno-compromised taken into account,” Little says. 

Medsafe is evaluating Molnupiravir, an oral antiviral medication, and also AstraZeneca's Evusheld, a pre-exposure prophylactic treatment that can prevent those who can't have vaccines from getting Covid-19.