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Coming Soon to Illinois: COVID-19 Oral Antivirals

January 14, 2022

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recently announced that two new COVID-19 oral antivirals will be available in Illinois later this month. The medications, Paxlovid (developed by Pfizer) and Molnupiravir (developed by Merck), can help treat those infected with COVID-19 who have a higher risk for becoming severely ill.

Both Paxlovid and Molnupiravir were given emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the federal government is making them available for free.

Here are a few highlights about the two antivirals:

  • They require a prescription
  • They should be taken as soon as possible after being diagnosed and within five days of the beginning of symptoms
  • Paxlovid is expected to reduce the risk of hospitalizations by 89%
  • Molnupiravir is expected to reduce the risk of hospitalizations by about 30%; this antiviral is intended to be used when other FDA-authorized treatments options for COVID-19 are not available
  • Molnupiravir is not authorized for use in patients who are pregnant
  • Molnupiravir is not authorized for use in patients younger than 18 years of age because it may affect bone and cartilage growth

Healthcare professionals must ensure that patients understand the safety risks of these therapeutics before prescribing them.

IDPH is currently working with pharmacies around the state to offer the oral antivirals. Stay tuned for further details.

For more information, visit IDPH’s COVID-19 Outpatient Treatment web page.

If you have questions, please contact the ISMS Health Policy Research and Advocacy team by email.

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