Why many pharmacists aren't prescribing Paxlovid: low demand, few workers

When the FDA allowed any state-licensed pharmacist to prescribe a COVID-19 antiviral to patients in July, some health organizations criticized the decision while others cheered, but pharmacies aren't picking up the slack, NBC reported Aug. 10. 

Pfizer's treatment Paxlovid became the most popular COVID-19 antiviral in May, but demand for the drug has since fallen off. 

"We were seeing some really low uptake and even within the pharmacy we were seeing just the medication sit on shelves because prescriptions weren't coming in," Richard Dang, PharmD, president of the California Pharmacists Association, told NBC

Some pharmacy owners have been hesitant to prescribe Paxlovid, while others said the controversy didn't matter since staff shortages and the time it takes to prescribe the two-dose regimen isn't worth it. 

Sanjay Patel, a pharmacy owner in Fremont, Calif., told NBC it takes about 20 to 30 minutes for pharmacists to fill out the forms and administer the treatment. 

Despite struggles to deliver Paxlovid to those at high risk for COVID-19, some pharmacy leaders stressed the necessity of broadening access to the drug. 

"To be honest, the Paxlovid decision should not have been controversial," Michael Ganio, PharmD, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, told Becker's. "We've been doing things like this in health systems for years. We work in a highly collaborative play with our colleagues, and this should be no different."

 

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