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Las Vegas pharmacists can now prescribe COVID-19 antiviral treatment

KVVU Las Vegas logo KVVU Las Vegas 7/7/2022 Drew Andre
Las Vegas pharmacists can now prescribe COVID-19 antiviral treatment © Provided by KVVU Las Vegas Las Vegas pharmacists can now prescribe COVID-19 antiviral treatment

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Experts say a barrier to getting COVID treatment is now lifted with the U.S. policy announced Wednesday that allows pharmacists to prescribe COVID antiviral medication.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said pharmacists can begin screening patients to see if they are eligible for Paxlovid and then prescribe the medication, which has been shown to lessen the effects of COVID-19.

Only physicians could prescribe the antiviral drug, prior to Wednesday.

“This is really a great option for those people that may not have what we call a medical home,” The Public Health Pharmacist CEO Christina Madison said. “So they don’t have a primary care provider all the time, but do need to access services.”

The free antiviral created by Pfizer, Paxlovid, decreases viral load which makes COVID patients less sick and less infectious.

“I would say if you’re symptomatic at all you should seek antivirals,” Madison recommended. “In most cases, it can almost eliminate severe illness hospitalization death by up to 80%.”

Madison said pharmacists lobbied for the change because they feel pharmacists are well-suited to prescribe the drug since they keep records of patient medication and already administer other COVID care.

All you have to do to receive the medication is present a positive COVID test. The positive test can even be a rapid at-home test. A person must be symptomatic for less than five days for the antiviral to be effective. As long as an individual doesn’t take other medication that could negatively interact with Paxlovid, a pharmacist can prescribe the treatment.

Many independent pharmacies said they have not received guidance on getting the antiviral, but Madison said many more around the Las Vegas valley soon will.

You can search the test to treat locator here to find which pharmacies near you are in stock.

Major pharmacies, like CVS, already have Paxlovid in stock.

“Because the success of the test to treat program hasn’t been what [the federal government] wanted, they’re actively seeking more providers to start initiating test to treat,” Madison said.

There is also an FDA-approved alternative antiviral that can be prescribed if you have kidney issues.

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