The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Wednesday that it would authorize state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer's Paxlovid for eligible patients.
"Since Paxlovid must be taken within five days after symptoms begin, authorizing state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid could expand access to timely treatment for some patients who are eligible to receive this drug for the treatment of COVID-19," Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., director for the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an FDA statement Wednesday.
State-authorized pharmacists are now able to screen patients if they are eligible for the COVID-19 pill per specifications outlined by the FDA. Prior to the FDA announcement, only physicians were able to prescribe the drug.
Pfizer's Paxlovid is currently authorized for the treatment of "mild-to-moderate COVID-19." The antiviral drug has been proven to curb the worst effects of the disease, showing positive results of direct viral testing for those at high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19, according to the FDA.
The FDA stated that those considered "eligible" to be prescribed the medication would need to present "a positive home test result from a rapid antigen diagnostic test, or a positive PCR test, to their provider."
BA.5 is currently the dominant subvariant of the coronavirus in the U.S., making up 53.6% of cases nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since fewer states are releasing new data, the accurate number of cases across the country remains unclear. The New York Times reported that only 23 states are continuing to release new data.
The FDA is pushing vaccine makers to target BA.4 and BA.5 in their updated shots as they prepare for fall cases.
Fox News reached out to the CDC and the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.