Local supplies of COVID-19 antiviral pill Paxlovid increase as demand lessens
Antiviral treatments to help fight serious COVID-19 disease were once very hard to access when cases were high and the treatments first received emergency FDA-approval. But now as COVID-19 cases start to decrease in San Diego, there are more than enough doses of the antivirals to meet demand at Kaiser Medical Center in San Diego.
Some of the treatments include antiviral pills and monoclonal antibodies through IV infusion, which decrease the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
Paxlovid, one of the COVID-19 treatment antivirals from Pfizer, has about an 89% reduction rate in hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 based on clinical trial data.
Dr. Matthew Genovese, assistant medical director at Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center joined KPBS Midday Edition to talk about Paxlovid and the availability of COVID-19 antiviral treatments in San Diego hospitals.
"With the various surges it's always been about timing, and it seems like when we are in most need is when we have the biggest issues with supply of drugs and staffing," Genovese said. "So now that we have not had a significant number of cases for a few weeks here, we have an abundance of supply of drug, and plenty of staff to give the medications."
He said although there is supply available at his hospital, not everyone is eligible for the treatments.
"These medications are actually really reserved more for people who are at higher risk of progressing," Genovese said. "It's really for people who are greater than 65, or less than 65 with risk factors. There's quite a few risk factors. So actually a fair number of COVID-positive people would qualify: immunocompromised, cancer, stroke, kidney disease, lung disease, liver disease, diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, pregnancy, smoking current or former, tuberculosis and even mental health disorders."
He said for people who are fully vaccinated and boosted and not in any high-risk category, the antiviral therapies most likely wouldn't be necessary.
Genovese said other than the FDA-approved COVID-19 antiviral treatments, monoclonal antibody treatments are another option to help fight serious symptoms of the virus.
KPBS reached out to other local hospital systems to find out if their supplies of antiviral medications are outpacing demand. In an email a spokesperson for Scripps said its hospitals recently started stocking antiviral treatments in its pharmacies and dispensing to patients last week. The demand for the antiviral drugs has decreased recently compared to January at Scripps hospitals.
A spokesperson for Sharp Healthcare said it has seen a drop in antivirals use in the last two weeks but continues to see demand for 7-10 orders per week.