Hard to get Covid drugs

I bought Pfizer and Merck stock based on their development of drugs to give to Covid patients out of the hospital. (Not to mention that they are both strong companies with good dividends.)

The “Test to Treat” program is supposed to be an easy-to-access test at a pharmacy, followed by a quick prescription for either company’s drug. (Paxlovid by Pfizer, Molnupiravir by Merck.) This would be really great for the many who are not vaccinated and/or not boosted and/or have a declining immune response to previous infection or vaccination.

I’m none too happy to see that these drugs are not readily available to patients, although there is plenty of supply.


**Covid Drugs Save Lives, but Americans Can’t Get Them**

**By Zeynep Tufekci, The New York Times, April 22, 2022**


**The national map of participating pharmacies in test to treat shows large parts of the country with none. Even in areas where treatment is supposed to be available, it can be hard to get. A Kaiser Health News reporter spent three hours driving around Washington, D.C., before finding a pharmacy where testing was available and the drug was in stock — something we should not expect sick people to do. When trying to book appointments online in several states, the reporter was sometimes denied an in-person appointment after listing upper-respiratory symptoms and a positive coronavirus test, even though the point of the program is to treat people with respiratory illness so they don’t get sicker. Many places did not have any same-day appointments, a big obstacle for a drug that should be given as quickly as possible.**

**The greater difficulty is that the drug can be prescribed only by a medical doctor, advanced practice registered nurse or physician assistant, especially because it can interact harmfully with many other drugs. It cannot be prescribed by a pharmacist....** [end quote]

I don’t see why this is a big deal. If I caught Covid and couldn’t get an appointment with my primary care physician, I would go to the local urgent care clinic and request a prescription from the doctor there. That’s what I do for any other prescription I need. I’m sure that people can use telehealth doctors if they have a positive Covid test in hand.

The problem appears to be that many patients and doctors aren’t aware of these effective new drugs. There are also the usual problems of access to medical care that plagues the U.S. healthcare system in general.

FYI, METARs: If you have symptoms, test at home. (I assume that you already have your free Covid home test kits.) If you are positive, do not pass GO, do not collect $100, go immediately to urgent care (or telehealth) and request Paxlovid (which works twice as well as Molnupiravir). Bring a list of your meds because these Covid drugs have interactions with some other drugs.



Part of the issue is also that many physicians don’t know what’s available, according to Dr. Daniel Griffin, and still believe that they should take a wait-and-see approach to covid. They shouldn’t, the antivirals and monoclonals need to be taken during the viral replication phase of the illness which lasts maybe up to 5 days (omicron and its relatives seem to move faster than the older variants). After that these medications do nothing.

Dr. Griffin is a clinician in internal medicine and a research scholar in infectious diseases and immunology. He does a weekly clinical update on the This Week in Virology channel, which has been my go-to source for covid information (and generally virology, which is mighty interesting). It helps to know the science, but an educated person can get the gist of what’s being said even if a lot of the details go over their head.

Last week’s episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLNoY6f6SE0&t=11s

Usually a new episode is available on Saturday mornings, but we didn’t get one yet this week.

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The CDC has a locator tool, and also a calculator for isolation advice. I used the calculator because of possible exposure, and found it easy to use with helpful advice.

New COVID-19 Test to Treat Initiative and Locator Tool
“The locations displayed above have received an order of Paxlovid or Lagevrio (molnupiravir) in the last two months and/or have reported availability of the oral antiviral medications within the last two weeks. Those sites that have not reported in the last two weeks display a notification with the site details, “Inventory has not been reported in the last 2 weeks. Please contact the provider to make sure the product is available.””

Quarantine and Isolation Calculator

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