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Connecticut pharmacies sign on to prescribe antiviral meds to COVID-positive patients

This test and treat initiative is meant to increase access to the life-saving drug.

WETHERSFIELD, Conn. — In another step forward in the fight against COVID, pharmacists across Connecticut will now be empowered to assess COVID-positive patients and prescribe them potentially life-saving medication.

This new initiative is all about increasing availability and access to the oral COVID antiviral treatment pill called Paxlovid. The once hard-to-get medication is now widely available.

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“It’s technically called test and treat,” said Nathan Tinker, the CEO of the Connecticut Pharmacy Association.

Long gone are the days of mass vaccination and testing clinics, which make local community access to COVID treatment all the more important.

“This is a way to take more pressure off the rest of the health care system,” said Tinker.

The new initiative bypasses your primary care physician.

“Pharmacists are trained and ready to do this,” Tinker added.

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The FDA 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.”

“It makes it easy for people who don’t have a lot of time or can’t make it to a hospital or the primary care physician," said Craig Damaschi of Wethersfield. "They can just come here and get it taken care of.”

And while small independent pharmacies may have a hard time holding up the logistical infrastructure to participate, pharmacy giant CVS says they’ll be a player at more than 9,000 locations.

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“Over this past summer, I had COVID. My whole family did. It was my 21st birthday which sucked too. I wish I had a treatment for it and wasn’t just in bed for a week,” said Hope Allen.

Specifically, the way that it works is if you get COVID, you’ll log onto a pharmacy’s digital platform, fill out a questionnaire, and be seen virtually by a pharmacist who can get you your medication in just a few hours.

“It also requires pharmacists to have access to 12 months of lab work or blood work,” added Tinker.

Here in Connecticut, we have about 6,000 pharmacists and about 700 pharmacies. The workforce has declined since COVID but the CT Pharmacists Association told FOX61 there is access in the state to a steady workforce pipeline from local colleges like UConn and the University of Saint Joseph.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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