Where do I find it?
The Ontario government expanded access to Paxlovid last week after concerns, including those raised in reporting from the Star, that it wasn’t reaching the right people.
“There’s pretty good eligibility now; if you’re someone who could benefit from treatment, you’re now eligible for a test, and a quicker test,” Grindrod said. “If you’re in a remote location with poor access it might be a rapid test through your pharmacy.”
Once you have a positive test result, a family doctor, nurse practitioner or a physician at the clinical assessment center can prescribe the drug.
You may be able to get Paxlovid directly at a clinical assessment center. (If it’s one of the distribution sites they should have it on hand.) You can also pick it up, if you have a prescription, at participating pharmacies. There are also options to have the drug couriered to your home address.
If you think you might be high-risk and have COVID symptoms, contact your family doctor or one of the roughly 80 clinical assessment centers, said Dr. Tara Kiran, a family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, noting Telehealth is also an option that “can help you navigate through how to get this medication.”
If a rapid home test is negative, but you are high-risk and have symptoms, it’s still important to talk to a health-care provider because rapid tests are less reliable than Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) ones, Grindrod added.
What about drug interactions?
There are a lot of drugs that can interact with Paxlovid, so it’s important that health-care providers know everything else you’re taking so they can create a plan, cutting back or pausing other medications as necessary, Grindrod said.
You should keep an up-to-date drug list on hand if you’re high-risk, including prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as herbal remedies.
Should I have a plan?
People who think they may be eligible for Paxlovid should speak with their family doctor or a pharmacist before they get sick with COVID, and keep a small supply of rapid tests at home so they can quickly test, said Kiran, vice-chair of quality and innovation at the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine. This ensures people know the steps they must take to get a test and prescription within the tight five-day timeline, she said, adding, “If you are unclear or unsure, it’s important to reach out.”
May Warren is a Toronto-based breaking news reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11
Megan Ogilvie is a Toronto-based health reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @megan_ogilvie