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FAQ: COVID-19 Pills

Two new medications are now available to treat outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19. Both have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration and studies show they reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.

  • Nirmatrelvir with ritonavir (PaxlovidTM) is manufactured by Pfizer
  • Molnupiravir is manufactured by Merck

For answers to some frequently asked questions about these two treatments, read more below.

How do these treatments work?

Both medications from Pfizer and Merck are taken orally (by mouth). Patients taking molnupiravir take four capsules twice a day for five days. Patients taking Paxlovid require different dosages depending on their kidney function.

Both of these medications help stop the COVID-19 virus from reproducing, which decreases the amount of virus in the body. This is similar to how other antiviral medications work. Paxlovid and molnupiravir work best if they are started within 5 days of getting sick.

What are the side effects?

Common side effects from Paxlovid may include altered sense of taste, diarrhea, elevated blood pressure, and muscle aches. Common side effects from molnupiravir may include diarrhea, nausea, and dizziness.

It is important to note that these medications are still being studied. Therefore, there may be other risks unknown at this time.

Should I try to get one pill over the other?

Both of these pills have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization. Therefore, we recommend patients receive the pill that is available to them if they meet the appropriate criteria and obtain a prescription from their doctor.

How is this different from the Monoclonal Antibody treatments?

Both of these medications are pills and should be started within 5 days of getting sick. The monoclonal antibody treatments  are given by an IV infusion and should be given within 7 days of getting sick.

How can I get a prescription?

If you have mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your provider to see if you are eligible for treatment.

Learn more about the latest eligibility guidelines from the FDA.

Are there any contraindications?

Yes. Pregnant patients should not take molnupiravir at this time. Patients with certain pre-existing medical conditions or who take interacting medicines may not be eligible for Paxlovid. Therefore, patients should inform their provider of all the medications they are taking including over the counter medications.

When can I get vaccinated?

CDC guidelines state you can get vaccinated once you your symptoms are resolved and you are and out of quarantine. We strongly recommend COVID-19 vaccination even after treatment because it can help to protect against future infection.