Ontario is contemplating permitting pharmacists to prescribe the COVID-19 therapy drug Paxlovid in order to develop entry, the province’s high physician says.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore mentioned just lately that the well being system will see a “triple threat” of COVID-19, a nasty flu season and the resurgence of a childhood respiratory virus this fall and winter.
Finding methods to make sure larger availability of remedy to maintain folks with COVID-19 out of hospital is of explicit significance for extra rural communities, he mentioned.
“I do know the government is reviewing the ability of pharmacists to be able to prescribe this directly after a positive test,” Moore mentioned in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“There was concern in particular in isolated areas. Where you may not have good access to a primary care physician, you may have access to a pharmacist. So that gap was looked at and I do believe they’re working aggressively on that.”
Multiple medical officers of well being across the province have raised the difficulty, Moore mentioned.
“I do think it is one solution in increasing the access,” he mentioned.
A spokesperson for Health Minister Sylvia Jones didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.
Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, mentioned his group has been pushing for pharmacists in the province to be in a position to prescribe Paxlovid, as colleagues in many different provinces already can.
“Given our experience in point-of-care testing, our knowledge of medications – particularly complex medications like Paxlovid, where there’s a lot of drug-to-drug interactions – and more, I would say, in-depth consultation that’s required with patients, pharmacists are well-positioned to provide that as a turnkey solution,” he mentioned.
Paxlovid is an antiviral remedy taken orally inside 5 days of symptom onset.
It is really helpful for folks at excessive danger of COVID-19 issues, corresponding to folks over 70 and sure immune compromised folks, notably these with out a minimum of three vaccine doses. It can be prescribed by a major care supplier or at a COVID-19 scientific evaluation centre.
Having pharmacies as another avenue for prescriptions will allow faster entry, and due to this fact hold extra folks out of hospital this winter, Bates mentioned.
“The earlier you started in five days, the better in terms of preventing serious symptoms and illness whereby you would then need to go to the hospital or, even worse, into the hospital’s ICU,” he mentioned.
Paxlovid is at the moment “sitting on shelves,” Bates mentioned.
“The amount of volume going through the stores, anecdotally, is very low,” he mentioned.
Moore mentioned about 3,500 therapies of Paxlovid are at the moment being prescribed every week, noting demand seems to go up as COVID-19 exercise rises.
Ontario has already introduced that as of Jan. 1 it’s increasing pharmacists’ prescribing powers to incorporate medicines for minor illnesses corresponding to conjunctivitis, dermatitis and hemorrhoids.
If the federal government additional expands the powers to incorporate not simply Paxlovid, however all antiviral medicines, pharmacists could additionally prescribe Tamiflu – which has fewer drug interactions than Paxlovid – forward of what’s anticipated to be a nasty flu season, Bates mentioned.
Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious illness specialist at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, mentioned he thinks it is a terrific thought to have pharmacists prescribe Paxlovid, saying it could stop folks from being hospitalized for COVID-19.
“These are preventable health-care outcomes,” he mentioned.
“There really does need to be more of a push to get it more accessible and pharmacies have done an incredible job helping with COVID vaccines … The major issue with Paxlovid is drug interactions and so, having pharmacists prescribing it makes total sense ”
This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Nov. 6, 2022.