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COVID-19 antiviral drug seeing increased use in the Valley

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 10:21 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Biden administration announced this week it is expanding the access to the COVID-19 oral antiviral drug Paxlovid.

The Pfizer-produced drug has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization by 90 percent, and local healthcare providers have been utilizing it for their patients.

They say it comes as a welcome treatment to the latest variants like Omicron BA.2.

“The FDA and CDC found the monoclonal antibodies aren’t effective and have actually been pulled off the market they’re not being used for this particular variant. So then these other drugs became more prominent in the use and that’s why you’re seeing Paxlovid being used more,” Dr. Robert Garwood of Sentara RMH said.

Dr. Garwood adds because of this, the pharmacy at Sentara has seen an uptick in prescriptions, but the medication does have its side effects.

“It has a lot of drug interactions so prior to prescribing with older people on a lot of medications, physicians have to go through their medication list and make sure there are no drug interactions that can cause problems for the patient. This is why initially it was a second-line treatment,” Garwood explained.

He says Sentara is looking into a potential future system in which symptomatic patients who test positive would be given Paxlovid immediately on site for treatment.

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