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The FDA Authorizes Pharmacists to Prescribe Paxlovid to Eligible Patients Who Test Positive for COVID-19

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This is part of a concerted effort to make sure all those with a high risk for progression to a severe case of COVID-19 have quick and easy access to appropriate therapy. In addition, since Paxlovid therapy should be started within five days of symptom onset, this change should help speed up the process.

CLL / SLL patients, in treatment or not, should be eligible.

Please note that it will be essential when a pharmacist is prescribing Paxlovid to bring your positive test, your latest lab, and medical records to check kidney and liver function, and a list of all medications.

Paxlovid therapy is generally very safe, but there are many possible drug interactions pertinent to CLL / SLL patients. See COVID-19: Dr. Sameer Parikh on Drug Interactions Between Paxlovid and CLL / SLL Drugs. There is also a nice website that has been developed to check if there are any interactions between Paxlovid and the more common oncology medications found here.

This is good news for all patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma. However, if recent history is any guide, we might expect some bumps along the way in the earlier phase of the rollout.

Here are sections from the official letter CLL Society received on July 6th, 2022.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir) to authorize state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid to eligible patients, with certain limitations to ensure appropriate patient assessment and prescribing of Paxlovid.

When testing positive for COVID-19, patients should first consider seeking care from their regular health care provider or locating a Test-to-Treat site in their area. While this action allows state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid with certain limitations as described below, community pharmacies not already participating as a Test-to-Treat site can decide if or how they will offer this service to patients.

Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are seeking to determine their eligibility for receiving Paxlovid at locations where prescribing by state-licensed pharmacists is available should bring the following information to ensure that the state-licensed pharmacist has sufficient information to determine their eligibility to receive Paxlovid:

  • Electronic or printed health records less than 12 months old, including the most recent reports of laboratory blood work for the state-licensed pharmacist to review for kidney or liver problems. State-licensed pharmacists could also receive this information through a consult with the patient’s health care provider.
  • A list of all medications they are taking, including over-the-counter medications, so that the state-licensed pharmacist can screen for drugs with potentially serious interactions with Paxlovid.