Packet of Palovid pills

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized pharmacists to prescribe the COVID-19 drug Paxlovid to adults and children at high risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the coronavirus.

“The FDA recognizes the important role pharmacists have played and continue to play in combating this pandemic,” Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., director for the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “Since Paxlovid must be taken within five days after symptoms begin, authorizing state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid could expand access to timely treatment for some patients who are eligible to receive this drug for the treatment of COVID-19.” 

The FDA revised its Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer’s antiviral drug, allowing pharmacists to prescribe Palovid with specific limitations: patients must test positive for the virus and provide health records to prove they don’t have kidney or liver problems. Patients also must provide pharmacists with a list of all medications they are taking to prevent potentially serious interactions with the COVID-19 drug. 

Paxlovid became the first in-home COVID-19 medication approved by the FDA for emergency use late last year for high-risk patients, including older adults. 

A recent Iraeli study found the drug halved the risk of severe illness or death for nearly 5,000 coronavirus patients who took it. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warned in May that patients could see a return of symptoms two days to a week after recovering from the virus.

Pfizer requested full FDA approval of the drug last week.