By: Dr. Brian Byrd
Until recently the only FDA-approved outpatient COVID treatments have been anti-COVID antibodies that require an IV infusion. Those are difficult to administer and require hospital staff time. Although the Omicron COVID variant causes less severe illness that previous strains, people with underlying illnesses are at risk for hospitalization or worse.
On December 22, 2021, the FDA approved Pfizer’s Paxlovid. It is a pill, reduces the risk of hospitalization by 89%, and from what I am reading, will be covered 100% by the federal government. That’s rather good news. When widely available, it should significantly decrease the risk of overwhelming hospital capacity.
The “bad news” on Paxlovid is that there will be limited doses available during the Omicron outbreak and Paxlovid requires taking six tablets a day. It also has significant drug-drug interactions with some common medications such as statin cholesterol drugs, a couple of antidepressants, some epilepsy drugs, and a very common oral contraception pill.
For the time being, those with underlying conditions such as HIV, diabetes, lung disease and folks age 65 and older will benefit and are the only ones eligible to receive a prescription for Paxlovid. It must be taken within five days of the onset of symptoms and patients should have a positive COVID test. So, if you are feeling ill, don’t delay in getting tested and calling us for a prescription.
The physicians at Texas Family Medicine will prescribe Paxlovid for those that meet the criteria. We also recommend COVID vaccines and boosters for all of our patients, unless they have experienced a significant reaction to one of the vaccines.