A COVID-19 treatment option will soon be available to some Oklahomans with the virus. Two antiviral drugs are expected to arrive on pharmacy shelves soon.
The Food and Drug Administration approved both the Pfizer and Merck antiviral pills for use. Walmart and Sam's Club store in the state both expect their first deliveries in the coming week.
"As quickly as Pfizer gets the pills manufactured and delivered, we will immediately provide them to states and jurisdictions for distribution," White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said.
Pfizer's antiviral drug, Paxlovid, is the first to get FDA-approval for emergency use. Paxlovid, and Merck's treatment Molnupiravir, are available in Oklahoma at Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies as of Dec. 30th.
"The only caveat to both of these medications is that they have to be taken early,” Oklahoma State Medical Association president Dr. Mary Clarke said. "The thinking is once you have the infection like the virus, if we can't prevent it let's stop it from replicating, then you don't get the illness.”
Studies have shown Pfizer's Paxlovid is 89% effective in keeping patients out of the hospital or dying from the coronavirus. It should be taken three times a day for five days. It has been approved for people 12 years and older.
"This pill can reduce approximately nine out of 10 hospitalizations,” Pfizer CEO Albert Boula said.
A prescription is required to get the medicine, as it is meant for those at high risk of severe illness. Since the person prescribed the drugs has COVID, the medicine has to be picked up curbside or via drive-thru.
They won't be charged for the drugs at pick up. A bill will be sent to either insurance providers or the federal government.
"We will have 265,000 treatment courses available in January," Zients said. "Production talks about six to eight months, so supply of this product will ramp up over the next several months.”
Not every Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacy will stock the medicine. Click here to see which locations will have them.