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Highly Touted COVID-19 Antiviral Treatments In Short Supply

FULLERTON (CBSLA) - New drugs to treat COVID-19 symptoms have been touted as much needed weapons to help control the pandemic, but some doctors and medical centers are wondering why they haven't yet received them.

COVID Pills 1
Jan. 25, 2022 (CBSLA)

"I have better luck asking my patients to go out there and find Cryptonite than finding these medications at this point," said. Dr. Thomas Yadegar, a pulmonary critical care physician in Tarzana.

Dr. Yadegar said he's tried to get the new antiviral pills for his immune-compromised COVID patients, but that they are extremely hard to come by. He said he's not had any success at all.

"Unfortunately, for the past month, it's been the same conversation with our patients, which is, 'I'm sorry you have COVID-19. Yes, there are these medications that can help you and keep you out of the emergency room and keep you out of the hospital and prevent you from dying, I don't know how to get it for you,' and you know, it breaks your heart," the doctor said.

The COVID antiviral pills were approved for emergency use in December. A prescription is required, though there is a very limited supply and the treatment is intended to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

The Food and Drug Administration has limited the use of two monoclonal antibody treatments because of their lack of effectiveness in fighting the Omicron variant. More and more doctors are hoping to find the new pills, manufactured by Pfizer, Merck and the British company Ridgebac Biotherapeutics.

"Unfortunately, there's a very serious shortage of this drug. Unlike some of the monoclonal antibodies, there was not a commitment to make it in advance because they weren't sure if the drug would, in fact, be shown to work. So, unfortunately, it is frustrating. The availability is very limited and it's a bit of a matter of the luck of the draw, if your pharmacy has it or not," said Dr. Harry Peled with Providence St. Jude Medical Center.

Physicians hope production of the pills will ramp up, but also acknowledge that could take several months.

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