The oral anti-viral drug Paxlovid is available on prescription for Covid-19 patients who do not require hospitalisation, the health ministry said on Friday.
It said the drug can be prescribed to patients within and outside the general health system (Gesy) with a confirmed PCR or rapid antigen test and mild or medium Covid-19 symptoms who do not require hospitalisation, within five days of the start of symptoms or the test result, whichever occurred first, and with at least one underlying condition.
For Gesy patients, before issuing a prescription, doctors are asked to answer a questionnaire on the Gesy website to ensure that it is given only for patients who meet the criteria set by the ad-hoc committee of the health ministry which draws up protocols regarding pharmaceutical treatment against coronavirus.
For patients outside Gesy, or for prescriptions by doctors who are not signed up with Gesy, the questionnaire can be found on the health ministry’s website on Covid-19, on the following link: https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/categories/emvoliasmoi-kata-tou-koronoiou.
Paxlovid can be prescribed by personal doctors (for adults), pathologists, doctors specialised in infectious diseases, pulmonologists, hematologists, pathologists- oncologists, cardiologists, nephrologists, neurologists, endocrinologists, geriatricians, gastroenterologists, and oncologists-radiologists.
The drug is available only from the hospital pharmacies of Okypy – the general hospitals of Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, Famagusta, Paphos, Troodos and Polis Chrysochous.
No co-payment of €1 will be required, the ministry clarified.
Paxlovid, which received authorisation for use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in January, is a medicine used for treating Covid-19 in adults who do not require supplemental oxygen and who are at increased risk of the disease becoming severe. It contains two active substances, PF-07321332 and ritonavir, in two different tablets.
The most common side effects with Paxlovid (which may affect less than 1 in 10 people) are dysgeusia (taste disturbance), diarrhoea, headache and vomiting, the EMA said.
Paxlovid must not be used together with medicines that are harmful at high levels in the blood and whose breakdown in the body is reduced by ritonavir, it added.
Paxlovid must also not be taken by people who have just stopped these medicines as some of the medicine may still remain in the body. Paxlovid must also not be taken with medicines that may reduce its effectiveness or in patients who are taking St John’s Wort (a herbal preparation used to treat depression). To identify interactions with ritonavir, a drug interaction tool is available on the website of the company marketing Paxlovid which can be accessed through a QR code in the product information and outer carton.
The health ministry asked health professionals to report any possible side effects through the pharmaceutical services’ national reporting system.