FDA allows pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer’s Covid treatment pills

The Food and Drug Administration added pharmacists Wednesday to the list of health professionals who can prescribe Pfizer pills to treat Covid-19. The move, intended to make it easier for patients to obtain the drug, will significantly increase the number of prescribers who can apply for the treatment, known as Paxlovid.

There are more than 300,000 licensed pharmacists in the United States, according to the American Pharmacists Association, a professional group that has been pushing for change.

Previously, only doctors, nurses, and physician assistants could prescribe the treatment. That restriction often forced patients to scramble to find a prescriber and then a place that would dispense the pills, which must be taken within five days of symptom onset.

The Biden administration moved earlier this year to expand access to treatments by launching a “test-to-treat” program that was intended to allow patients to get a prescription for the pills immediately after testing positive for the virus. virus, and in the same place, often. a CVS Minute Clinic. But those clinics required the presence of an intern nurse practitioner or physician assistant to prescribe the drug, and those professionals aren’t available in many pharmacies.

While pharmacists generally do not have the same prescribing authority as doctors and nurses, in some states they have gained more authority to prescribe commonly used medications for conditions that are easy to manage. Pharmaceutical groups defend these moves as friendly to patients, especially in rural and poorer areas that are underserved by traditional health care providers. Physician groups have generally opposed expanding pharmacists’ prescribing authority, raising concerns about safety risks created by pharmacists’ limited information about a patient’s health history.

On Wednesday, the FDA said Covid patients seeking a prescription for pills from a pharmacist should bring records of their recent blood tests and a list of any other medications they take. The pharmacist must then review the records for possible kidney or liver problems or problematic interactions between Paxlovid and the patient’s other medications, the agency said. A component of Pfizer’s treatment can interfere with certain medications, including those commonly used for cholesterol and cardiovascular problems, which can cause serious side effects.

The agency said pharmacists should refer patients to other prescribers if records and information about other medications are not available.

Paxlovid has been available under emergency authorization for high-risk covid patients aged 12 and older since late last year. More than 800,000 prescriptions were filled in the United States in its first five months of availability, although initial supplies were limited. Pfizer filed an application last week seeking full approval of Paxlovid.

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