Home | News | Vulnerable Australian’s first in line for new COVID-19 pill
The UK was the first country to license the new oral drug for use. Picture: AFP.

Vulnerable Australian’s first in line for new COVID-19 pill

Aged care residents will be among the first in the country to receive a newly approved at-home COVID-19 treatment.

Antiviral pill Lageviro, also known as molnupiravir, was recently listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Under the guidelines, doctors will be able to prescribe the drug to eligible adults with high risk factors, including age, other medical conditions or being moderately or severely immunocompromised.

It also must be prescribed within five days of symptom onset following a positive PCR or RAT test result.

It’s expected the oral treatment will cost just $6.80 for concession card holders or $42.50 for general patients.

But the treatment will not be made immediately available to the wider population.

Chief medical officer Paul Kelly previously outlined the nation’s most vulnerable communities would be the first to receive the pill.

“Once the treatments do start to come into the country, the Australian government will be working closely with the state and territory governments to ensure these treatments get distributed to those people who are most at risk,’ he said in January.

“This, in the first instance, is likely to include people infected in outbreaks in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and those infected in outbreaks in residential aged care and disability care settings.

“Then, over coming months, as supply increases, we may see more wide distribution available across the population.”

Lagevrio was approved by the nation’s medical regulator for use in January along with Pfizer’s oral treatment Paxlovid.

Both drugs are aimed at reducing hospitalisation of mild and moderate illnesses and will be welcomed by many in remote and rural communities without access to a hospital.

The government has previously said it has secured access to at least 300,000 courses of Lageviro and 500,000 courses of Paxlovid for the national medical stockpile.

From there, it will be made available to state and territory health departments as well as to Aboriginal controlled community health organisations and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

But it is not known how many doses will be made immediately available or when shipments are anticipated.

Global supply shortages have affected the number of courses available in other nations where the drug has been approved.

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