At its most recent meeting on July 28, the Wisconsin Medical Society’s COVID-19 Task Force discussed the latest developments regarding Paxlovid – Pfizer’s two-drug antiviral COVID-19 treatment. Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s action in July authorizing pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid (with various limitations), the task force invited the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin (PSW) to the meeting to discuss what their profession is experiencing with this new “test and treat” initiative. (PSW has been a solid partner during the COVID-19 pandemic, including joining with WisMed on a COVID-19 vaccine awareness campaign to promote more rapid uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.)
PSW Vice President of Public Affairs Danielle Womack, MPH, shared that Paxlovid prescribing uptake has been slow among her members, and especially among community pharmacies, due to the amount of information a pharmacist must confirm before being allowed to prescribe Paxlovid under the latest Emergency Use Authorization coupled with dismal reimbursement rates for administering the treatment. Womack said that pharmacists readily refer patients to their physician if the EUA-required information is not known.
The group also discussed how task force members and other physicians have had surprising difficulties getting Paxlovid prescribed and administered for vulnerable family members testing positive for COVID-19. Recent headlines focusing on so-called “rebound” cases (such as Dr. Anthony Fauci’s experience in late June and President Joe Biden’s ongoing situation) have only added to potential physician hesitancy. Research has shown that receiving Paxlovid greatly reduces COVID-19 hospitalization or death, especially in unvaccinated patients. "Rebound COVID-19” cases following Paxlovid treatment is under evaluation but likely related to many factors including being part of the natural history of the disease. Even when rebound has been described, symptoms have generally been mild, not requiring hospitalization. Read more about Paxlovid on the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Paxlovid page.
“Paxlovid remains an important option in preventing progression to more severe COVID-19 in high-risk populations, especially the unvaccinated,” says Task Force Chair David Letzer, DO. “Physicians need to keep this option in their toolbox. Eligible patients should start Paxlovid as soon as possible upon a positive test and within five days of symptoms.”
The WisMed COVID-19 Task Force continues to meet regularly to discuss important COVID-19 topics and developments. If you would like to be part of the task force or want more information, please email WisMed Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer Mark Grapentine, JD.
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