What You Should Know About the New Oral Antivirals For COVID-19

By Sarah West, PharmD Candidate 2022
University of Florida College of Pharmacy

January 31, 2022

Covid Antivirals

The recent authorization of two oral antiviral medications, Paxlovid and Lagevrio, proves that the nation is still fighting COVID-19, despite its many variants. These medications may have a significant impact in helping prevent hospitalization due to severe COVID-19 while lowering the burden on our healthcare system. 

You may have many questions about if these medications are right for you. Please keep reading to learn more about how these medications work, who can take them, side effects, and access in your area. 

How do oral antiviral medications work? 

Paxlovid contains two antiviral medications, whereas Lagevrio includes one. Both work by helping to prevent the virus from reproducing in your body. Fortunately, these medications work on locations of the virus that do not mutate. So, the effectiveness of these medications should not be affected by any variants. Paxlovid has shown to be 88% effective in preventing hospitalization due to severe COVID-19, and Lagevrio is 30% effective.  

Who can take oral antivirals?  

These medications are similar, but they have different criteria to receive a prescription. Paxlovid is available for high-risk adults and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older with mild to moderate COVID-19. To see what conditions qualify as “high-risk,” please visit the CDC website. Only high-risk adults and patients who cannot take other treatment options can take Lagevrio.  

Both medications are only available by prescription from a healthcare provider. If you receive a prescription, start taking it within 5 days of symptom onset for the best results. Patients should take Paxlovid 1 tablet twice a day for 5 days and Lagevrio 4 capsules twice a day for 5 days.  

It is important to note that neither medication is for the prevention of COVID-19 nor use in currently hospitalized patients. These medications are also not a substitute for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

What are the risks of oral antiviral medications? 

Both treatment options can interact with some other medicines that you may be taking. Let your doctor and pharmacist know what other medications you are taking before starting either of these to avoid adverse events. Speak with your doctor if you are pregnant, have severe kidney or liver problems, or have HIV, as these medications may be harmful to take. 

The possible side effects are mild but can include altered taste, diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, high blood pressure, and muscle pain.  

Are oral antivirals available in my area? 

The biggest issue we are currently facing with these medications is access to the public. The distribution of these drugs is very limited at this time. The government is hoping to have an increased supply in the coming months. You can visit healthdata.gov to see where these medications are available. The good news is there is currently no charge to the public for these medications. 

Although the supply of these medications is limited, they may help the nation overcome this pandemic and decrease the risk of severe COVID-19 in many patients.  

If you’re diagnosed with COVID-19, work with your doctor to determine whether these medications are right for you. No matter the medicines your provider prescribes, ScriptSave WellRx is here to help. Download our free app today to check current prices at your pharmacy, access medication reminders, and check interactions.  

 

Resources: 

https://www.fda.gov/media/155050/download 

https://www.fda.gov/media/155054/download 

https://news.wttw.com/2021/12/26/explainer-new-easy-use-covid-19-pills-come-catch 

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-additional-oral-antiviral-treatment-covid-19-certain   

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/12/31/1069323181/covid-antivirals-paxlovid-Lagevrio  

 

 

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