What You Have to Know About Antiviral Remedy for Covid-19 — A Dialog with Christina Nguyen, PA-C

Oral antiviral drugs are serving to to show the tide of the Covid-19 pandemic, lowering the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death from the virus.

When taken inside 5 days after signs begin, these prescription pills can stop the virus from multiplying, reduce the quantity of virus in your physique and assist your immune system fend off illness.

HealthyWomen spoke with Christina Nguyen MPAP, PA-C, a doctor assistant and clinician supervisor with Carbon Well being in Los Angeles, about when, the place and the best way to entry these lifesaving drugs.

HealthyWomen: What are the oral antiviral therapies for Covid-19?

Christina Nguyen: There are two oral antiviral drugs now licensed for emergency use by the Meals and Drug Administration (FDA): Paxlovid and Lagevrio. Each are available with a prescription. Paxlovid is the first-line advice for sufferers who take a look at constructive for Covid and meet the rules.

HealthyWomen: What are the rules for who can use these antivirals?

Christina Nguyen: At present, these medicines can be utilized inside 5 days of signs beginning and with a constructive Covid take a look at. As a result of there are dangers and advantages with all medicines, there are different {qualifications} as effectively.

Proper now, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) is recommending oral antivirals for people who might be more likely to develop severe Covid. These embody people who find themselves over age 50 (just lately lowered from age 65), individuals who aren’t updated on Covid vaccines/boosters and other people with sure well being circumstances that will increase their threat of great sickness.

The list of health conditions that qualify an individual for antiviral Covid remedy could be very lengthy. It contains obesity (BMI over 30), a sedentary life-style, despair, anxiousness, substance use disorder, most cancers, coronary heart illness, diabetes and immune system problems. It’s a really complete record.

For the reason that majority of the inhabitants may match beneath one among these {qualifications}, it’s usually a matter of going over dangers versus advantages with a healthcare supplier (HCP) that can assist you resolve whether or not it’s best to take an antiviral for Covid.

HealthyWomen: So people who find themselves unvaccinated, in addition to those that aren’t updated on Covid vaccine doses/boosters, can get oral antivirals?

Christina Nguyen: Sure.

HealthyWomen: Are there dangers linked to those drugs? Is there anybody who shouldn’t take them?

Christina Nguyen: Solely folks over 18 can use Legavrio. Paxlovid can’t be utilized by youngsters beneath the age of 12 or those that weigh lower than 88 kilos. Paxlovid can be not really useful for individuals who have extreme kidney or liver issues.

There are a whole lot of drug-drug interactions with Paxlovid, that means people who find themselves taking sure drugs have to keep away from it. For instance, if an individual is taking a blood thinner that they will’t safely cease taking, then that individual isn’t a great candidate for Paxlovid as a result of a harmful drug interplay may happen.

By way of family planning, Paxlovid could make hormonal contraception much less efficient, so folks ought to use a backup methodology to stop being pregnant. And Lagevrio isn’t really useful to be used throughout being pregnant as a result of it could hurt the fetus.

One other threat with any drug is anaphylaxis, which is a extreme allergic response to an ingredient within the remedy.

So far as unwanted side effects, each drugs could cause an upset abdomen, and a few folks say Paxlovid leaves a metallic or bitter taste within the mouth.

The HCP who prescribes your oral antiviral remedy can go over the whole record of dangers and unwanted side effects with you and reply any questions.

HealthyWomen: Are you able to speak a little bit bit about rebound an infection?

Christina Nguyen: With rebound Covid, signs clear up however then mysteriously return as a result of the extent of virus within the physique goes again up. It might occur to anybody, however seems to be more common in individuals who take Paxlovid.

What sufferers discover is that they take Paxlovid and their signs go away utterly. They then take a look at unfavourable. However inside just a few days, they begin getting signs once more.

One idea is that the remedy isn’t all the time capable of seize the entire virus, and as soon as the remedy is gone from the physique, the remaining virus reactivates.

HealthyWomen: The place can folks get these oral antivirals? Can pharmacists prescribe them?

Christina Nguyen: For those who take a look at constructive for Covid or discover signs and have an HCP, you’ll be able to test with them about prescribing an oral antiviral remedy.

Your native public well being division is one other nice useful resource, whether or not you might have an HCP or not. For instance, the Los Angeles Division of Public Well being is providing oral antiviral drugs for free of charge, and so they have choices on their web site free of charge telehealth appointments so that you don’t have to go to a clinic to get a prescription.

You may also search for a Test to Treat site close to you. Test to Treat is a program that enables folks to be examined for Covid and get an oral antiviral multi function location.

Simply final month, the FDA authorized pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid to individuals who have examined constructive for Covid inside 5 days (with sure limitations). The pharmacist will simply want entry to the affected person’s well being data to ensure they’re a great candidate for the remedy.

HealthyWomen: You talked about that these drugs are free out of your public well being division. Are they free in every single place?

Christina Nguyen: All public well being departments ought to have these drugs obtainable for free of charge. For those who go to your HCP or some test-to-treat websites (akin to an pressing care), you might have to pay for the go to however not the remedy.

HealthyWomen: How accessible are these drugs?

Christina Nguyen: They’re usually broadly obtainable at this level, though they could be tougher to get for folks in rural areas. To deal with this problem, the Well being Assets and Companies Administration (HRSA) did push a program known as the Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Therapeutics Program to handle and guarantee entry and allocation of provides to rural clinics.

Sadly, the identical disparities and inequalities that exist in healthcare at giant additionally have an effect on access to Covid treatments, particularly for folks of shade. I and different suppliers are working very onerous to bridge these gaps.

HealthyWomen: Anything you need folks to learn about oral antiviral Covid drugs?

Christina Nguyen: For those who begin to really feel sick, attain out to an HCP — your major care supplier, a public well being division or test-to-treat web site — straight away. You solely have a five-day window, and also you don’t need it to shut earlier than you will get these useful drugs.

Assets

Paxlovid Patient Fact Sheet

Lagevrio Patient Fact Sheet

This useful resource was created with assist from Pfizer.

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