Health, Sci-Tech

Maryland Department of Health begins to offer oral COVID-19 antiviral medications statewide



BALTIMORE, MD—The Maryland Department of Health on Friday announced that it is working with congregate care facilities, local health clinics, physicians, and pharmacies statewide to distribute the newly authorized antiviral medicines: Paxlovid and Molnupiravir.

These prescription pill regimens are the first oral antiviral treatments given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for adults who test positive for COVID-19 and who have at least one risk factor for serious disease from COVID.

Both Paxlovid and Molnupiravir are prescribed in a five-day pill regimen. These two medications join monoclonal antibody therapy (mAb), which is delivered by intravenous infusion, as treatment options available for those at risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

The initial allocation of Paxlovid and Molnupiravir to Maryland is limited to approximately 4,500 courses over two weeks. The federal government expects larger allocations of doses nationwide in January 2022 and further expansion thereafter.

“These two oral COVID-19 treatments are new tools to help us fight this disease and potentially save lives,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “Getting vaccinated, getting a booster shot, and getting tested remain our best defense against COVID-19. If any Marylander tests positive for COVID-19, they should speak right away with their health care provider to see if Paxlovid, or Molnupiravir are right for them.”

In a letter to clinicians on Monday, MDH outlined its plans to distribute federally allocated doses of Paxlovid and Molnupiravir throughout Maryland to select pharmacies chosen to ensure equitable access of the limited supplies. Physicians statewide are able to prescribe the medication and direct patients to the participating pharmacies. Maryland’s initial allocations of the medications began arriving in pharmacies yesterday.



Patients must consult a physician to determine if either medication is appropriate for their situation and obtain a prescription.

“It is important that people at risk of serious illness get tested or do an at-home test at the first sign of symptoms ‒ whether they are vaccinated or not ‒ so that they can get the best treatment available,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services, Dr. Jinlene Chan. “These treatments need to be started within days of the onset of symptoms to be effective.”

The FDA also recently issued an EUA for Evusheld, developed by AstraZeneca, the first preventive (prophylaxis) treatment for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals who do not have COVID-19.

Additional information about COVID-19 treatments, including Paxlovid, Molnupiravir, and monoclonal antibody therapy, is available at https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/testing/treatment-options.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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