UPDATED ELIGIBILITY FOR ORAL COVID-19 TREATMENTS

COVID-19
Dr. Benyamin Mansoori
Dr. Benyamin Mansoori

MD, FRACGP, FACAM
Advance Diploma in General Dermatology
Diploma of Cosmetic Medicine

ORAL COVID-19 TREATMENTS

UPDATED ELIGIBILITY FOR ORAL COVID-19 TREATMENTS

The federal government has expanded eligibility criteria under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for subsidised COVID-19 antiviral treatments, allowing an additional 160,000 Australians to access them. Australia currently has two oral antiviral medications for COVID-19 – Lagevrio® and Paxlovid®, which are available on the PBS.

Effective from 1 April 2023, the new eligibility criteria includes individuals who are 70 years of age or older, regardless of risk factors and symptoms. People aged between 60-69 years with one additional risk factor for developing severe disease are also eligible, as well as people aged 50 years or older with two additional risk factors for developing severe disease or who have previously been hospitalised for COVID-19. First Nations people who are 30 years of age or older and have one additional risk factor or have had a previous hospitalisation due to COVID-19 are also eligible, as well as immunocompromised individuals over the age of 18.

The risk factors for severe disease include living in residential aged care, having multiple chronic conditions or disabilities, neurological problems, chronic lung disease, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney or liver damage, living remotely with poor access to healthcare, and previous severe COVID-19 infection.

It is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding individuals to take COVID-19 antiviral treatments. Instead, they should focus on getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Individuals with severe kidney or liver disease should not take Paxlovid® and should consult with their healthcare provider for alternative oral treatments.

For those taking Paxlovid® who are also on prescribed birth control, it is recommended to use additional contraception as the treatment may affect how the birth control works. Effective contraception is also recommended during and after treatment with Lagevrio® and Paxlovid®. Men should use contraception during and for 3 months after taking Lagevrio®.

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