As the omicron surge pummels a pandemic-weary nation, the first antiviral pills for Covid-19 promise desperately needed protection for people at risk of severe disease. However, many people prescribed Pfizer’s or Merck’s new medications will require careful monitoring by doctors and pharmacists, and the antivirals may not be safe for everyone, experts caution.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s Paxlovid for mild to moderate Covid in people as young as 12 who have underlying conditions that raise the risk of hospitalization and death from the coronavirus, such as heart disease or diabetes. However, one of the two drugs in the antiviral cocktail could cause severe or life-threatening interactions with widely used medications, including statins, blood thinners and some antidepressants. And the FDA does not recommend Paxlovid for people with severe kidney or liver disease.