Nearly 2 years after COVID-19 became a significant threat in the United States, we suddenly have not one but two oral drugs available to treat infected patients. Just last week the Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to oral antiviral medications from Pfizer and Merck, both of which have been shown to reduce risk for patients with mild to moderate disease who are at risk for severe illness. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can prescribe either for the next patient those factors apply to, however. Paxlovid (ritonavir), Pfizer’s drug, is available to approved partners through the Health Partner Ordering Portal and at the time of the EUA announcement there were only 65,000 doses. In announcing the EUA for Merck’s Lageviro (molnupiravir), the agency noted that the medication’s use is limited to “situations where other FDA-authorized treatments for COVID-19 are inaccessible or are not clinically appropriate.” Paxlovid is authorized for patients 12 years of age and older, while Lageviro is reserved for those 18 and older.
Finally, an Approved Treatment Specifically for COVID-19; the Question Is, Can You Prescribe It?