CDC finds dispensing gap in Paxlovid, Lagevrio prescriptions among 'vulnerable' ZIP codes

Despite the large presence of dispensing sites in "high vulnerability" ZIP codes, pharmacies doled out fewer antiviral treatments between Dec. 23, 2021, and May 21, 2022, compared to other ZIP codes, according to a CDC study published June 21. 

During the study's time period, there were 1,076,762 prescriptions for COVID-19 antiviral treatments Paxlovid and Lagevrio, with the former making up 76.9 percent of orders, the study shows. Prescriptions for both treatments ramped up between March and May, with orders for low- and medium-vulnerability ZIP codes spiking from 3.3 oral antivirals prescribed per 100,000 population to 77.4 per 100,000 and 4.5 per 100,000 to 70 per 100,000, respectively.

High-vulnerability ZIP codes lagged behind in those two months, with pharmacies dispensing 35.7 oral antivirals per 100,000 population. Half of the U.S. population lives in these areas. 

A GoodRx analysis found 42 percent of U.S. counties, or 26 million people, lacked access to Paxlovid from January to March because of pharmacy deserts. 

To close this gap in access, the CDC recommends dispensing sites to "facilitate patient access to testing, clinical assessments, and oral antivirals in a single visit" and establishing more pharmacies across the nation.


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