By ZEKE MILLER – Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and his administration want Americans and their doctors to know that the country has an adequate supply of the life-saving COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid and no longer needs to be rationed .
First approved in December, the Pfizer Diet’s supply was initially very limited, but as COVID-19 cases across the country have declined and manufacturing has increased, it is now much more plentiful. The White House is now working to raise awareness of the pill and take steps to make it easier to access.
Paxlovid, when given within five days of the onset of symptoms, has been shown to result in an approximately 90% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths in patients most at risk of serious illness. About 350 Americans now die from the coronavirus every day, up from more than 2,600 at the height of the omicron wave earlier this year.
A senior administration official said the use of antiviral treatment has “more than doubled” in recent weeks, but the administration has more supplies that can save lives and prevent serious illnesses. ‘they are prescribed in a timely manner.
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The United States has ordered enough pills for 20 million people, which is expected to last several more months. The administration has warned that further deliveries are dependent on Congressional approval of additional funding for the COVID-19 response.
Biden officials plan to highlight the relative abundance of the drug next week, and government officials will step up outreach to patients and providers.
The Food and Drug Administration has authorized Pfizer’s drug for adults and children ages 12 and older with a positive COVID-19 test and early symptoms who face the highest risk of serious outcomes. This includes the elderly and those with obesity and heart disease, although the drug is not recommended for patients with severe kidney or liver problems.
The effort includes expanding the availability of the pills by providing a direct-to-pharmacy ordering route for the drug. Currently, the federal government relies on states to determine where the supply goes, and about 20,000 locations sell the pill, including 2,000 so-called “test-to-treat” locations that can provide the treatment immediately after a positive test result.
The administration believes the pharmacy channel, which it used to increase the availability of COVID-19 vaccines more than a year ago, will also make antiviral pills more accessible to people.
News of the pharmacy’s expansion was first reported by Bloomberg.
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