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KCBS Radio: With a Variety of COVID Treatments, How Easy Are They to Obtain?

KCBS Radio recently interviewed Rita Shane, PharmD, vice president and chief pharmacy officer at Cedars-Sinai, about the top medications being used to treat patients with COVID-19. 

Four new treatments are available for high-risk outpatients with COVID-19. They include recently approved pill therapies Paxlovid and molnupiravir, monoclonal antibody infusion sotrovimab and antiviral infusion remdesivir. Patients must have a prescription from their physician to receive these medications, said Shane, who also is a professor of medicine.

Shane advised eligible patients who are trying to obtain a prescription to share a complete list of their current medications with their physician and pharmacist. One of the pill therapies, Paxlovid, has many significant interactions with other drugs. Timing also is important because both pill therapies must be started within five days of symptom onset.

Shane told KCBS that although previously used monoclonal antibodies do not work against the omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, the new monoclonal antibody, sotrovimab, does appear to be effective. She added that remdesivir, the antiviral infusion, originally was only used to treat hospitalized patients and was recently approved for certain outpatients as well.

While these new treatment options are promising, accessing them has been challenging. Shane told KCBS that "distribution is at the state and county level." She recommended that patients speak with their physician about whether they are eligible for any of the medications and for help locating the pill therapies at a local pharmacy or finding a nearby infusion center administering the other treatments.

She encouraged anyone who has been prescribed one of these new treatments to educate themselves about the medication. "There's a fact sheet that's been developed for patients for each of the drugs, and it's important to take a look and review that information," Shane told KCBS.

Click here to listen to the complete interview from KCBS Radio.