At selected pharmacy locations, Walmart is set to receive and dispense two COVID-19 antiviral medications authorized by Food and Drug Administration just before the holiday break.
Walmart said Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir, both oral medicines, will be available at some Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies this week as supplies allow. Customers must have a prescription from a health care provider to receive the medications, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer noted.
Since Paxlovid and Molnupiravir are prescribed to people with COVID-19, the drugs will be available at Walmart and Sam’s Club only via curbside pickup or drive-through pharmacy windows, according to Walmart. Customers and health professionals can go to walmart.com/covidmedication and use the store locator tool to find their nearest store or club carrying this medication to send the electronic prescription.
Walmart said it worked closely with the federal government and state health departments to choose locations where states determined that the antiviral treatments were needed most. Though current supply restricts the medications’ availability to a limited number of states, more Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies are expected to provide the medicines as more doses are produced, the company added. Both antivirals are available at no cost to eligible patients with a valid prescription.
“We are committed to working with our state and federal partners to provide access to new treatment options like authorized COVID-19 antiviral medications, as they become available,” Kevin Host, senior vice president of pharmacy for Walmart, said in a statement. “This medication offers customers the option to recover at home and helps reduce the burden on our hospitals and communities. As we have since the beginning of the pandemic, we’re proud to support our communities through everyday essentials, healthy food, vaccines, medication and other health care needs as we all work together to weather the pandemic.”
With the fast-spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19 hoisting infection counts nationwide, the FDA granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to Pfizer’s Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir tablets and ritonavir tablets) on Dec. 22 and to Merck’s Molnupiravir (Molnupiravir capsules) on Dec. 23. Both are for the treatment of mild-to-moderate coronavirus infection in people testing positive for COVID-19 and who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death.
“This authorization provides a new tool to combat COVID-19 at a crucial time in the pandemic as new variants emerge and promises to make antiviral treatment more accessible to patients who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19,” Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, stated when announcing the EUA for Paxlovid.
Molnupiravir can be prescribed only to adults, while Paxlovid is authorized for use by adults and children ages 12 and older weighing at least 88 pounds. The FDA noted that both antivirals are treatments for COVID-19 intended to reduce the risk of hospitalization and aren’t a substitute for COVID-19 vaccinations.
“As new variants of the virus continue to emerge, it is crucial to expand the country’s arsenal of COVID-19 therapies using emergency use authorization, while continuing to generate additional data on their safety and effectiveness,” Cavazzoni said in reporting the EUA for Molnupiravir.