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Doctors Seeing Hurdles With COVID-19 Pills

(Photo Illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

As more treatments for COVID-19 continues to roll out, many doctors are now wondering when exactly they will get medication. One treatment that doctors are anticipating is the COVID-19 pills. According to AP News, healthcare systems from all over the U.S. are rushing to get same-day prescription deliveries for COVID-19 pills from Pfizer (Paxlovid) or Merck (Molnupiravir). The media outlet notes that the goal is to start patients on either the Pfizer or Merck COVID medications within five days of symptoms appearing. The treatment helps to prevent patients with health risks from becoming sicker and overwhelming hospitals if another surge of COVID-19 were to occur. 

What We Know:

  • Doctors worry that they are not getting the COVID-19 pills from Pfizer or Merck quickly enough for their patients.
  • The COVID medication is to help high risk patients from becoming sicker or overwhelming hospitals in the event of another surge.
  • Pfizer recently announced it is launching clinic trial testing for its COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, in children six years and older. 

Dr. Bryan Jarabek, who is leading COVID-19 treatment and vaccination efforts for Minnesota’s M Health Fairview, said that with vaccines and treatments available healthcare workers can make the virus much more manageable in the future. “If people are willing to take care of themselves.”

The FDA Authorized COVID-19 Pills Last Year 

AP News also reports that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the COVID-19 pills last year. The treatment is claiming to be a huge advance in fighting against the virus. This is due to the fact that pill treatment is convenient, unlike other treatments. Which includes infusions or injections.

However, the key issue with pills is that patients may miss the treatment’s short window. That’s if they end up dismissing the initial symptoms of the virus. This includes headaches or sneezing. Dr. Thomas Lew from Stanford says he has seen high-risk and unvaccinated patients who waited more than a week to seek medical treatment for their symptoms. “They say everyone in the family decided it was a cold or allergy season is coming up. But it was COVID all along.”

Lew also says that people are playing seeking help for many health problems. Not just COVID. However, he says that when it comes to the virus, he and others believe that patients may not be aware of the tight deadline for convenient treatments. 

Jarabek further estimates that 30% of half of the patients who qualify for the COVID-19 pills turn down the treatment in his health system. This is due to some patients not considering themselves as high risk. Of they don’t think they were sick enough to need the medication. 

Meanwhile, doctors encourage those who are at high risk of developing health problems from COVID-19 to remain vigilant when it comes to symptoms.