Paxlovid COVID pill supply is high, but demand is low, Chicago area clinics say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- When Paxlovid was authorized for emergency use by the FDA last December, the at-home COVID pill was considered a major step forward in the fight against the virus.

Yet, the drug is now sitting on shelves across the Chicago area.

"We have a ton of Paxlovid right now, so patients can book an appointment come see us discuss treatment options and can walk home with a prescription in hand," said Jayme Sibley, medical director at Innovative Express Care.

Despite the supply, Innovative Express Care has only dispensed 20 doses during the last three weeks.

Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care locations also have not seen a big demand for it.

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"There's a fair amount of barriers that limit people to get it," said Dr. Sindhu Aderson, central regional director at Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care.

The barriers include seeing a doctor to get a prescription, since Paxlovid cannot be taken with certain medications.

"There are significant interactions," Aderson said. "Also, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, that may not be a good idea as well."

Paxlovid is to be taken within five days of COVID symptoms. For several weeks, the drug was not widely available and only reserved for highly immunocompromised patients. But with ample supply now, anyone who is high risk is a good candidate for it.

"We can treat a wider range of patients," Sibley said. "Even if you are overweight, we can treat you, if you have high blood pressure or asthma."

If you take medications that cannot interact with Paxlovid, doctors suggest using monoclonal antibodies for a COVID treatment, which requires an IV.

Whether it's an IV or a pill, medical experts stress COVID treatments are not a replacement for the vaccine. But for high-risk patients, the treatments do a good job in preventing hospitalization.
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