Infectious Disease

Why is it important to maintain access to Paxlovid?

March 21, 2023

1 min read

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Disclosures:
Gandhi reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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Click here to read the Cover Story, “Experts fear impact of US plan to end COVID-19 emergencies.”

[Editor’s note: On March 16, an FDA advisory committee recommended that the FDA approve Paxlovid for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.]

Rajesh T. Gandhi, MD

The public health and national emergencies related to the COVID-19 pandemic are set to end on May 11.

Although this date allows health care providers and patients to make necessary adjustments, many people will still feel the effects when funding ends and Medicare’s coverage of important preventives and treatments — such as Paxlovid — stops. Infectious Disease News spoke with Rajesh T. Gandhi, MD, physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, about the importance of maintaining access to the treatment once the emergency declarations are lifted.

I believe it is critical to maintain access to Paxlovid once the public health emergency is lifted. In particular, even if the drug is approved, I am concerned that those who are uninsured or underinsured will not be able to afford the treatment. We need to have systems in place to provide this medication to all who are eligible.

I am prescribing Paxlovid to those who are at high risk for progression based on older age or medical conditions that confer a higher risk for severe COVID-19 — like being immune compromised or having heart or lung problems. In these patients, there is evidence that the medication is preventing hospitalization and death.

We need to maintain access to this medication and not exacerbate disparities in care for COVID-19.

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