Apr 28, 2022 - COVID

Where to get Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral in the D.C. region

In this illustration, a pill is surrounded by antibodies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The D.C. region now has easier access to Pfizer’s COVID-19 drug Paxlovid.

Driving the news: The White House this week said it is expanding access to Paxlovid in the coming weeks after months of scarcity.

People in the D.C. region can take advantage of a federal program called Test to Treat, which partners with pharmacies to fill Paxlovid prescriptions for free.

  • Test to Treat allows people to get a COVID-19 test, receive a prescription and have it filled, all in one location.
  • This map lists pharmacies across the region participating in the program that received Paxlovid in the last two months and/or have reported availability in the last two weeks.

DC Health says there is a sufficient supply of the drug that residents can access with a prescription at any Test to Treat location or one of 65+ pharmacies with the drug.

Maryland’s health department tells Axios it has an adequate supply and that it has ensured that community health centers and pharmacies that serve nursing homes, in particular, have the drug.

Brooke Rossheim, a public health specialist with the Virginia Department of Health, also says the state’s Paxlovid supply is good.

  • The state has a map of all locations that can dispense COVID-19 therapeutics.

Flashback: The drug was initially limited in supply. In January, for example, DC Health said it only had the drug at three Safeway pharmacies.

The big picture: Paxlovid, which received emergency use authorization in December for high-risk people, reduces the risk of hospitalization for vulnerable adults with mild-to-moderate infection by nearly 90%.

The drug must be used as soon as someone tests positive and within five days of symptoms starting.

  • While there are certain conditions one must have to get a prescription, public health experts say a significant amount of people qualify.

Yes, but: Despite a more plentiful Paxlovid supply, Tara Palmore, a professor and infectious disease expert at the George Washington Medical Faculty Associates, tells Axios that there might still be barriers to access.

  • While Paxlovid itself is free if accessed through Test to Treat, it must be prescribed by a provider or urgent care, where co-pays may apply.
  • Additionally, Palmore says the drug interacts with certain medications and there’s no data yet on its use in pregnant or breastfeeding patients, meaning a conversation with a provider is crucial.
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