As COVID-19 continues to impact communities, new treatments also continue to emerge. In December 2021, the FDA granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for two COVID pill treatments, Merck’s Molnupiravir and Pfizer’s Paxlovid.
What is the COVID Pill?
Both medications work by disrupting the replication of the SARSCoV-2 virus to prevent severe illness. With Molnupiravir, the patient takes four capsules orally every 12 hours for five days, for 40 total capsules. With Paxlovid, the patient takes two different types of medicine, two tablets of nirmatrelvir and one tablet of ritonavir taken together orally twice daily for five days, for 30 total capsules.
When Is the Treatment Most Effective?
These alternative treatments work best for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 when taken within five days of symptom onset and after receiving a positive test result. The emergency approval recommends use in patients with a high risk of severe disease when other treatment options aren’t available. Molnupiravir’s EUA allows use for patients ages 18 and older, while Paxlovid’s EUA allows use for patients ages 12 and older weighing a minimum of 40 kg.
Who Falls Outside of Authorized Use for Treatment?
The EUA only covers the narrow use of COVID pills. Patients falling outside the defined scope should not use these drugs.
- Patients under 18 years old for Molnupivavir and 12 years old for Paxlovid
- Patients with severe COVID-19
- Patients without a positive COVID-19 test
- Patients at low risk for severe illness
- Patients with certain medical conditions that increase their risk of side effects
Does the COVID Pill Prevent Infection?
No. Neither pill has approval as a treatment to prevent infections before or after exposure to COVID-19. The treatment works to prevent severe illness in high-risk patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
Does the COVID Pill Replace the Vaccine?
No. The COVID-19 vaccine remains the most effective solution to protect against the virus, especially for patients at risk of severe illness. The new oral treatments reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 in high-risk patients but does not prevent the spread or infection of COVID-19.
Get The Right Treatment!
Informed patients make better health decisions. Partner with your local COVID-19 experts to understand whether the COVID-19 pill from Merck is right for you
Dr. Jonathan Goss is the Founder and President of Emergent Testing and EmergentNOW. He is a native of Houston, Texas, graduate of Morehouse College, Emory School of Medicine, a former resident student at Ohio State University School of Emergency Medicine and a doctor turned entrepreneur. Dr. Goss believes in compassionate and accessible medicine, which led him to build an innovative healthcare solution. Dr. Goss’s passion for helping others is visible in every aspect of care offered by Emergent Testing and EmergentNOW