The White House announces new steps to make COVID-19 oral antiviral drugs easier to access

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The Biden administration announced new steps it intends to take to expand the country’s coronavirus testing and treatment infrastructure, including making oral antivirals and preventative measures easier for ordinary Americans to access.

White House officials on Monday discussed new steps to increase distribution capacity, which included nearly doubling the number of sites, oral antiviral drugs available, and the new installation of federally supported test-to-treat sites.

This image provided by Pfizer in October 2021 shows the company's COVID-19 Paxlovid pills.  US health authorities on Wednesday, December 22, 2021 approved the first pill against COVID-19, a Pfizer drug that Americans will be able to take at home to ward off the worst effects of the virus.  (Pfizer via AP)

This image provided by Pfizer in October 2021 shows the company’s COVID-19 Paxlovid pills. US health authorities on Wednesday, December 22, 2021 approved the first pill against COVID-19, a Pfizer drug that Americans will be able to take at home to ward off the worst effects of the virus. (Pfizer via AP)
(Pfizer via AP)

“These actions will help strengthen and further build the infrastructure to ensure that life-saving treatments for COVID-19 are quickly deployed around the country, widely available and easy to access,” officials said.

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“To date, the administration has worked with pharmacies, long-term care facilities, local health centers and other health care institutions to establish more than 2,200 test-to-treat sites around the country, including sites specifically for military families and veterans,” the White House added. “As a result, the use of oral antiviral drugs has more than doubled in the last several weeks. But more is needed to make these treatments even easier to access and ensure that healthcare providers and patients know about their safety. , efficiency and availability. “

US President Joe Biden speaks during a Fourth of July event at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, Sunday, July 4, 2021. Photographer: Sarah Silbiger / Bloomberg via Getty Images

US President Joe Biden speaks during a Fourth of July event at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, Sunday, July 4, 2021. Photographer: Sarah Silbiger / Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Photographer: Sarah Silbiger / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The White House also specified its intention to support medical providers with more guidance and tools to understand and prescribe treatments and to communicate these new safe treatment options to the American people.

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The first thing on the Biden administration’s agenda is to almost double the number of places where oral antiviral drugs can be obtained, a process that can take several weeks.

“As of this week, the administration will allow all pharmacy partners in the federal antiviral pharmacy program representing tens of thousands of pharmacies nationwide to order free antiviral treatments directly from the federal government,” officials said.

FILE - A sign points to a COVID test site at Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cincinnati on January 3, 2022. (AP Photo / Jeff Dean, File)

FILE – A sign points to a COVID test site at Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cincinnati on January 3, 2022. (AP Photo / Jeff Dean, File)
(AP)

These pharmaceuticals will soon be available in more than 30,000 locations, a number that the administration hopes to swell up to 40,000 through a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and its pharmacy partners, it said.

One specific oral antiviral agent that the administration seeks to get into circulation quickly is Pfizer’s pill Paxlovid.

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The administration described the pill as “the most effective treatment available … which has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by about 90%.”

“The United States is committed to purchasing 20 million courses of treatment – more than any other country in the world,” it added.

FILE - This undated image provided by Pfizer in November 2021 shows the company's COVID-19 pills.  (Pfizer via AP, file)

FILE – This undated image provided by Pfizer in November 2021 shows the company’s COVID-19 pills. (Pfizer via AP, file)
((Pfizer via AP, file))

Next, the Biden administration also intends to expand federally-funded COVID-19 test-to-treat sites by working with state governments, local health agencies, and their respective jurisdictions to ensure broad availability.

“These sites will be targeted to meet demand and increase equal access to life-saving COVID-19 treatment and will work in direct collaboration with state and local health agencies,” officials said.

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Finally, the administration intends to keep healthcare providers across the country informed about the latest effective prescription of COVID-19 treatments as well as patient side effects and risk factors.

“The administration has been working for months with health care providers around the country to inform them about new treatments with weekly webinars, with state and territorial health officials, health care and medical organizations,” the White House said. “The administration will continue to actively engage the clinical community to expand awareness and understanding of these treatments and to ensure that healthcare providers advise their patients on these effective treatments, prescribe them where appropriate, and assist patients with to identify where their prescription can be completed. “

However, these additional measures will require additional funding from Congress, the administration said.

Fox News’ Kristina Biddle contributed to this report.

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