Two oral antiviral COVID treatments to arrive in Kentucky by next week

As Omicron continues to run its course in the Tri-County and nationwide, new treatments have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fight against the virus.

Merck's Molnupiravir and Pfizer's Paxlovid are the two oral anti-viral treatments that were approved in December of 2021. However, the pills will only be distributed to high-risk COVID-19 patients for emergency use.

Anthony Powers, Baptist Health Corbin's President, took the podium at January's Southern Kentucky Chamber meeting to say the pills are not the "magic bullets" many hoped for.

Merck's effectiveness rating is only about 30 percent when trying to prevent a severe case from progression.

"It also comes with a whole host of side effects," Powers said. "Really, physicians are pretty cautious about using it when it becomes available. Unless there's just not another option."

Pfizer's pill is "slightly better on the side effect profile," added Powers, but it does appear to reportedly interact with patients who are on blood thinners and other medications.

Powers explained, "Pfizer's pill is much safer" and has a much higher effectiveness rate at approximately 70-80 percent.

Paxlovid was reportedly studied while the Delta variant was the prominent strain, so the effectiveness against the Omicron variant is an ongoing study.

The pills are expected to arrive next week in Kentucky. Walgreens will be the main pharmacy to dispense Pfizer medication. However, it will be in limited supply.

Samantha Walden, Staff Writer at the Kentucky Daily


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