Should I Take Paxlovid After a Positive COVID-19 Test?

Published: July 12, 2022
Melody Berg
By Melody Berg, PharmD, MPH, BCPS

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may be wondering if a new medication called Paxlovid is right for you. Paxlovid is a pill that can be prescribed by your pharmacist, doctor, or other healthcare practitioner to keep you out of the hospital if you get COVID-19. Essentially, Paxlovid keeps your case of COVID-19 from progressing into a severe form.

A pharmacist with advanced training in infectious diseases answers the most common questions about Paxlovid and COVID-19.

 

  1. Is Paxlovid effective against COVID-19?

    Yes. Studies show that Paxlovid is an effective treatment for mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in patients 12 years and older. Paxlovid is a pill that combines two antiviral medications. It has been shown to lower the risk of you getting severely sick from COVID-19 if you take the medication within five days of symptoms appearing.

    A Paxlovid prescription is typically 30 pills. You take three pills twice a day for five days.

     

  2. What are the side effects of taking Paxlovid?

    The most common side effect reported is change in your sense of taste. Other common side effects include:

    • Diarrhea
    • Muscle aches
    • High blood pressure

    One of the ingredients in Paxlovid, called ritonavir, can cause liver problems, so patients with hepatitis or a history of liver disease should talk to their doctor or pharmacist before taking the medication.

     

  3. Does Paxlovid cure COVID-19?

    No. At this time there is no cure for COVID-19.

     

  4. Can I get COVID-19 again, even after taking Paxlovid?

    Yes. Treatment with Paxlovid and having COVID-19 does not keep you from getting it again.

     

  5. What is the Paxlovid COVID-19 rebound?

    Some patients report that their symptoms came back after taking Paxlovid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call this a “COVID-19 rebound.”

     

  6. Can I take Paxlovid if I’m pregnant?

    There is no information on safety of Paxlovid in pregnant women. If you are pregnant and interested in Paxlovid treatment, it is recommended you have a discussion with your doctor about benefits and risks.

     

  7. Can I mix Paxlovid with my other medications?

    It is important to let your doctor or pharmacist know what medications you are on or plan to take during treatment with Paxlovid. Taking over-the-counter fever reducers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) are safe with Paxlovid.

     

  8. How do I get Paxlovid?

Visit your doctor, pharmacist, or another healthcare provider to get a prescription for Paxlovid. However, you must meet certain criterial before the medication can be prescribed to you. This includes having a mild-to-moderate case of COVID-19 and being at risk for it to progress into a severe case, which requires hospitalization. Your doctor or pharmacist can assess your risk.

It is not for individuals who require hospitalization or for those who have been exposed to the virus and want to keep them from becoming positive.

A pharmacist’s tips for taking Paxlovid

  • Try to take Paxlovid at the same times of day for all five days of treatment, with or without food.
  • Taking with food may help prevent any stomach upset from occurring.
  • Both medications in Paxlovid should be taken together as prescribed.
  • The tablets should be swallowed whole.
  • Talk to your pharmacist if you have any trouble swallowing the tablets.

Summary
Paxlovid is an effective treatment for mild-or-moderate COVID-19. You must visit your doctor or pharmacist within five days of a positive COVID-19 test and having symptoms for it to be effective. Paxlovid is not for all cases of COVID-19, so be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your health history and share your medication list with them.

 

 

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