Challenges and Opportunities Surrounding the Use of Paxlovid in COVID-19 Treatment

Paxlovid has been proved as effective in preventing severe COVID-19 outcomes, but several challenges stand against its wide use like high cost of this medication and its interactions with other solo treatments moreover not all states got the same amount which should have also be distributed properly.
Paxlovid has been proved as effective in preventing severe COVID-19 outcomes, but several challenges stand against its wide use. Credit | Getty Images

US – COVID-19 patients are rising every week; tens of thousands of Americans are being hospitalized, and this keeps on rising, and some thousands of them die from it. And yet, with an antiviral, which is a proven treatment to lessen the chances of severe outcomes, is being underused. 

To prevent people from hospitalization and death from COVID-19, Paxlovid, the drug is highly praised by experts as a powerful tool to use. However, not all patients will receive the benefit from the five-day treatment due to the high cost and doctors’ reluctance to prescribe the medications. 

“When you read in your local newspaper that in this hospital, they’ve got this many COVID patients, most of those are preventable hospitalizations,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar who sees Paxlovid as a valuable tool to treat COVID-19. 

The Price Barrier and Patient Access Challenges 

According to one study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Paxlovid reduces hospitalization by 51% in adults. The older individuals and generally those adults with certain underlying conditions are advised to use the drug. 

Once Paxlovid was delivered as an emergency treatment in the U.S., Everyone that needed it was required to get this drug free of charge. After the government stopped funding, Pfizer made a list price of $1,390, as reported by the Associated Press. 

Until the end of this year, drugs will still be free for people on federal insurance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, while the uninsured population can get them at no cost. However, most of those people must pass through a patient assistance program, which is managed by Pfizer, in order for them to get the price cuts. Commercial consumers who are out-of-pocket high can also claim financial aid through a separate co–pay assistance program. 

Paxlovid is expensive to carry for independent pharmacy owners owing to the reimbursement rates from commercial insurers, said Kurt Proctor, a senior vice president at the National Community Pharmacists Association. 

“If you’re losing 5% on a $10 prescription, it’s very different than losing 5% on a $1,400 prescription product,” he said. 

Navigating Challenges for a Promising Solution 

Some patients are also being turned off by the high list price. 

Celise Ballow of Junction, Utah, was never given the medication when she recently contracted COVID-19. 

Ballow claimed that after informing her that her insurance would not pay the prescription, her doctor refused to write one for her. She now questions whether she had been able to acquire the treatment; she could have been able to prevent some of the worst impacts of the virus. 

“I’m going on a month and a half, and I’m still having nebulizer treatments. … I’m still exhausted,” Ballow said. 

It indicates that the extensive list of drugs that should not be taken with Paxlovid is another issue impeding acceptance. A lot of doctors might conclude that it isn’t worth the danger of drug interactions. 

“If people are on four or five different medications, it does tend to be a pain to double-check. ‘Is there an interaction here?’” said Dr. Sarah George, an infectious diseases professor at St. Louis University. Seeing a possible significant drug interaction “tends to put a physician off from prescribing a drug, even if there is a workaround,” she said. 

In 2021, the population who was most likely to benefit from Paxlovid are received its schedule in making comparisons. The result of this research shows that those chanced individuals were least the first set group with high-chance possibilities needed for medication doses, as reported by the Associated Press. 

Distribution and Missed Opportunities 

Paxlovid, however, was reported to over-distribute in places where it should be less likely. According to the authors, if it had been used appropriately, then more than sixteen thousand deaths from COVID-19 could have been avoided. 

Michael Barnett, an assistant professor at Harvard and one of the study’s co-authors, said it need not be. 

“There are very few medications and very few patients whose potential medication interaction with Paxlovid is so severe that they’re better off not taking Paxlovid,” he said. “Very few of them are important enough that it’s a big risk to stop for a week.”