It’s been more than a month since the Food and Drug Administration issued the emergency use authorizations for two COVID-19 antiviral pills from Pfizer and Merck.
And while they’re another tool in the toolbox in the fight against COVID-19, you might find they’re not so easy to find.
“These medications are our last line of defense for people at high risk of hospitalization. That’s the only reason you would prescribe them,” explained Dr. Jack Michel, the director of Larken Community Hospital.
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According to the Florida Department of Health’s website, there are only two pharmacies in Broward and Miami-Dade counties that are able to fill these prescriptions right now.
And you do need a prescription.
Both are Publix pharmacies. One is in Fort Lauderdale. The other is in Miami.
NBC 6 counted less than 15 pharmacies across the state that seem to have the medication available. Some of them were at Walmart, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies, according to the Health Department’s locator.
“This morning, for example, I got a call from a patient. We found a pharmacy here in Miami that prescribed it,” said Dr. Michel. “But this is someone who is elderly and was at high risk.”
He says these pills are not for people with just mild symptoms who have no underlying conditions.
“There’s not enough of these medications available,” said Dr. Michel. “We should save them for people that are really high-risk people. That are elderly. Diabetics. People that have hypertension, pulmonary problems. That are on dialysis or immunocompromised.”
The pills may not be safe for everyone. Experts say it’s important to talk to your doctor first and make sure they know what medication you’re already taking.
NBC 6's sister station Telemundo 51 asked Dr. Anthony Fauci in a one-on-one interview when the federal government would be increasing the supply of these pills.
“Paxlovid. The federal government, which initially contracted for three million doses, not only doses but treatment regimens, has upgraded that for an order of 10 million,” said Fauci. “That’s the first thing. Also, we’re going to increase the supply of Sotrovimab which is the monoclonal antibody very effective against even Omicron.”
The FDA revoked the emergency use authorization earlier this week for the Regeneron and Eli Lilly antibody drugs because they are not effective against the variant.
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