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Paxlovid, New Pill To Treat COVID, Should Be Easier To Get At Pharmacies Soon

BEVERLY (CBS) - Beverly Councilman Dominic Copeland wishes he'd had access to the anti-viral therapy Paxlovid when he was fighting for his life with COVID at Beverly Hospital last year. It wasn't approved yet back then.

"I actually ended up being rushed to the hospital by ambulance, not being able to breathe," he said. "I needed nine liters of oxygen, and at ten liters, that's when they put you on the respirator and everything else."

The Biden administration has announced a new push to prevent cases like that by making Paxlovid more available at more pharmacies. Even though it's currently approved for emergency use by the federal government for high-risk patients, it's been reportedly underused.

"There are some physicians who are not aware that Paxlovid is available, and who are therefore not prescribing it to the highest risk people," said Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

This winter, after Copeland had recovered, his wife came down with COVID in the midst of her cancer treatment. "She had to have her doctor call a hotline, the hotline had to call her back, and then they had to put her in a registry to see if she would be eligible for it," Copeland said.

They gave up on trying to get anti-viral therapy, and luckily, she recovered without it. Copeland says cutting the red tape would have saved a lot of pain and trouble.

Dr. Sax says patients can and should advocate for themselves. "They can mention it to their doctors, their nurses, their physician assistants and try to get a prescription. I've also heard of people going for an online visit with a clinician and being able to get it that way."

He also says a growing number of what are called "test to treat" sites will help.

There's a link to find one using a zip code HERE.

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