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Antiviral pills to fight severe COVID available in Hawaii

April 25, 2022 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii doctors, like physicians elsewhere in the U.S., have been prescribing antiviral pills to COVID-19 patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms of the disease. But only those at high risk of developing severe illness are eligible to receive the drugs.

Two brands of antiviral pills are available at pharmacies and health centers in the state with a doctor’s prescription, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. They are Paxlovid, which was developed by Pfizer, and Lagevrio, or molnupiravir, which was developed by Merck.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to both drugs. Both need to be prescribed and taken within a five-day window of the onset of symptoms.

Dr. Douglas Kwock, Hawaii Pacific Health’s vice president of medical affairs, said doctors have been prescribing the antiviral pills or therapeutics since January.

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The pills are aimed at preventing severe infection, hospitalization and death, he said. They aren’t a cure for COVID-19 nor are they for anyone simply exposed to the corona­virus.

Patients must have high-risk conditions, like obesity or diabetes or be immunocompromised to be eligible.

“The treatment would involve a discussion with your primary care physician on whether you qualify or not, and even if you did, if it is something that would be beneficial,” Kwock said.