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New antiviral COVID-19 drugs available at select Michigan pharmacies

Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck's molnupiravir are at home prescription treatments for mild to moderate COVID-19 and are available for eligible patients.
Credit: WZZM

MICHIGAN, USA — Select Michigan pharmacies have limited supplies of two new antiviral treatments for mild to moderate COVID-19 infections are available to patients who fit eligibility requirements.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) authorized emergency use of Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck's molnupiravir in late December of 2021 and some Michigan pharmacies started receiving the drugs in early January.

Paxlovid and molnupiravir availability in Michigan

The drugs are very limited in supply and only select pharmacies across the state currently have the medications.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 26, there are currently 3,569 courses of Paxlovid and 16,679 courses of molnupiravir available in Michigan according to an email from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Molnupiravir is currently stocked in all Meijer pharmacies across the state and Paxlovid is stocked at 25 Meijer pharmacies due to its limited availability. The two West Michigan Meijer locations with Paxlovid include the Walker and Norton Shores stores. Meijer provided a complete listing of stores with the medications here.

The drugs have also been made available at "Selected retail pharmacies in areas not served by Meijer (based on supply)," according to a statement from the Michigan government earlier in the month.

Antiviral drugs effectiveness and prescription requirements

Both Paxlovid and molnupiravir have been shown to reduce hospitalization and death in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.

The two new antivirals are meant for at-home use and must be prescribed by physicians, advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants who are licensed to do so for patients who meet certain criteria.

Both antiviral drugs are meant to be taken at home for patients who are experiencing mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms directly at the onset of those symptoms.

The drugs have a set parameter of limitations per the FDA's emergency use authorization. You can find the full list on Michigan.gov.

Limitations of Authorization Use

  • Paxlovid and molnupiravir are not authorized in patients under 12 and 18 years of age, respectively.
  • Medications are not authorized for initiation of treatment in patients requiring hospitalization due to severe or critical COVID-19.
  • Medications are not authorized for pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19.
  • Medications are not authorized for use longer than 5 consecutive days.

In addition to the limitations on use, eligibility requirements for both drugs have been put into place due to their current scarcity. Michigan.gov listed these eligibility requirements.

State of Michigan Priority Eligibility Criteria

Paxlovid is indicated for the treatment of mild-to-moderate coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kg), and

  • with positive results of direct severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral testing, and
  • who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death, and
  • who meet the current Priority Eligibility Criteria (see Page 6)
  • Immunocompromised patients who have received Evusheld for pre-exposure prophylaxis should not receive Paxlovid based on scarce resource allocation principles.

Molnupiravir is indicated for the treatment of mild-to-moderate coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in adults (18 years of age), and

  • with positive results of direct severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral testing, and
  • who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death, and
  • for whom alternative COVID-19 treatment options authorized by FDA are not accessible or clinically appropriate, and
  • who meet the current Priority Eligibility Criteria (see Page 6)

Read the full priority eligibility criteria and prescribing requirements for authorized oral antiviral medications for outpatient treatment of mild to moderated COVID-19 here.

Despite these new advances in COVID-19 treatment options, the best defense for COVID-19 is still considered to be full vaccination and boosters when eligible.

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