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COVID-19 Therapies

COVID-19 therapies with emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

(Updated May 23, 2022)

Two therapies are antiviral pills that could help people once they have been diagnosed with COVID-19. There is also a monoclonal antibody that might be used for patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 but don’t qualify for an antiviral pill. Additionally, there is a monoclonal antibody therapy designed to prevent illness in people who are immunocompromised, such as cancer or organ transplant patients. Hennepin Healthcare is working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health and other health systems throughout the state to plan for equitable distribution of these new therapies to patients who are at high risk of serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19.

While the COVID-19 vaccine with boosters is still the best protection against the virus, new prevention and treatment options are especially helpful for people with certain pre-existing conditions. Read on to learn more about how the new therapies work, who qualifies, and how to access them through Hennepin Healthcare.

Evusheld

What is it?

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization on Dec. 8 for Evusheld, a new monoclonal antibody treatment from AstraZeneca. Evusheld is a preventive therapy designed to protect people with compromised immune systems before exposure to COVID-19. These people receive less protection from the vaccine and are at higher risk of hospitalization and death if they get COVID-19. Evusheld may provide up to six months of protection against COVID-19. In clinical trials, it has been shown to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 by nearly 80 percent.

Evusheld is NOT a COVID-19 treatment. It can’t be given to people who have the virus or were recently exposed to COVID-19.

How do I get it?

There is currently a limited supply of Evusheld. If you meet the criteria and get care at Hennepin Healthcare for your high-risk condition, your Care Team will reach out to you to get the medication.

Paxlovid

What is it?

Paxlovid is an antiviral medicine from Pfizer. It was approved for emergency use on Dec. 22 to help treat COVID-19 in people at high risk of severe illness from the virus. It has been approved to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 cases and is meant for use before hospitalization.

Clinical trials show Paxlovid can reduce the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 by nearly 90 percent. Like molnupiravir, Paxlovid treatment must be started within five days of showing symptoms.

Paxlovid is a protease inhibitor. It stops the COVID-19 virus from replicating inside a person’s body by blocking protease, an enzyme that the virus needs to multiply. Protease inhibitors have long been used to treat other viruses, including HIV and hepatitis C. It does interact with other drugs you might be taking so your provider will need to weigh the benefits vs harm due to drug interactions.

Paxlovid is currently approved for people 12 and older who weigh at least 88 pounds.

How do I get it?

Paxlovid is currently available through health care systems and also Test to Treat sites, which include some pharmacies. Hennepin Healthcare is working with the Minnesota Department of Health and health systems throughout the state to plan for distribution based on available supply and COVID-19 rates/need for medication.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 at Hennepin Healthcare and meet the criteria for this treatment, one of our team members will reach out to you directly when there is medication available. Outreach occurs on weekdays and some Saturday mornings.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 by testing at home or somewhere else, you have had symptoms for 5 days or less, and you are interested in this treatment, please reach out to your PCP/clinic team or call our COVID-19 Patient Care Line, 612-873-2922 (8:00a - 4:30p, M-F), to see if you are eligible and if medication is available.

Molnupiravir

What is it?

In addition to Evusheld, the FDA recently issued emergency use authorization for two new COVID-19 treatments – molnupiravir and paxlovid. Molnupiravir is an oral pill from Merck. It dramatically changes the virus’s genetic code, causing it to mutate so much that it can’t replicate.

Recent studies show that molnupiravir can reduce the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 by 30 percent. Patients take four pills every 12 hours for five days. They must start the treatment within five days of showing symptoms.

Molnupiravir is approved to treat mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 in adults who are at high risk for severe illness but have not yet been hospitalized. It’s only approved in cases where alternative COVID-19 treatments approved by the FDA aren’t appropriate.

Molnupiravir is only approved for adults 18 and older. It’s not recommended for people who are pregnant.

How do I get it?

Molnupiravir received emergency use authorization on Dec. 23, and it is currently available. Hennepin Healthcare is working with the Minnesota Department of Health and health systems throughout the state to plan for distribution based on available supply and COVID-19 rates/need for medication.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 at Hennepin Healthcare and meet the criteria for this treatment, one of our team members will reach out to you directly when there is medication available. Outreach occurs on weekdays and some Saturday mornings.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 by testing at home or somewhere else, you have had symptoms for 5 days or less, and you are interested in this treatment, please reach out to your PCP/clinic team or call our COVID-19 Patient Care Line, 612-873-2922 (8:00a - 4:30p, M-F), to see if you are eligible and if medication is available.

Bebtelovimab

What is it?

The FDA issued emergency use authorization on February 11 for bebtelovimab to treat COVID-19 in some cases. Bebtelovimab can help block the COVID-19 virus from entering the body’s cells to decrease the amount of virus in the body.

Bebtelovimab is approved to treat mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 in people who are at high risk for severe illness but have not yet been hospitalized. It is only approved in cases where alternative COVID-19 treatments aren’t appropriate. It must be started within seven days of showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Bebtelovimab is currently approved for people 12 and older who weigh at least 88 pounds.

How do I get it?

Bebtelovimab is not currently available at Hennepin Healthcare but, if you are eligible, your PCP or clinic team can refer you for this treatment through the Minnesota Department of Health. Because of its requirements, a clinician must refer you for this therapy.

We will update this website when there are changes in the supply of these medications or how they are distributed.  In the meantime, please continue to get vaccinated or get booster shots when eligible, wear a high-quality mask and practice all necessary COVID-19 precautions.