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Wider eligibility for Paxlovid announced


Jolyon Attwooll


30/03/2023 4:06:42 PM

From 1 April the availability of the oral antiviral on the PBS will expand to include over-60s with only one risk factor for severe disease. 

Paxlovid
The oral antivirals are most effective when started within five days of symptom onset.

More people aged between 60–69 will be eligible for treatment with nirmatrelvir with ritanovir – sold as Paxlovid – following a change in PBS rules.
 
The COVID-19 oral antiviral, which became available on the PBS in May last year, will be available from 1 April to all those in the age group with COVID-19 who have one other risk factor for severe disease. Under previous guidelines, two risk factors were needed for free access to the medication.
 
The change in PBS eligibility will expand eligibility to more than 160,000 extra Australians in the 60–69 age bracket, according to the Federal Government.
 
Changes introduced at the beginning of 2023 meant that eligibility for the oral antivirals included everybody aged over 70, regardless of additional risk factors.
 
From 1 April, the eligibility criteria for Paxlovid on the PBS will cover the following people with a diagnosis of COVID-19:

  • Those aged 70 or older, regardless of risk factors and with or without symptoms
  • People aged 60–69, with one additional risk factor for developing severe disease
  • Those aged 50 or older with two additional risk factors for developing severe disease or those who have had past COVID-19 infection that resulted in hospitalisation
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 30 years or older and with one additional risk factor for developing severe disease, or those who have had COVID-19 infection that led to hospitalisation in the past
  • People aged 18 or older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised
  • People aged 18 or older who have been previously hospitalised from COVID-19 disease
According to clinical guidelines, the oral antivirals are most effective when started within five days of symptom onset.
 
The most recent figures suggest both of the two oral antivirals available on the PBS are being prescribed widely.
 
The latest statistics shared in the Department of Health and Aged Care’s COVID-19 response update for primary care showed almost 9000 oral antivirals were prescribed and dispensed in the most recent week.
 
That number is expected to rise further.
 
While an increasing share of them is for nirmatrelvir with ritanovir, the most widely prescribed remains molnupiravir (sold as Lagevrio).
 
Molnupiravir has not been included in the latest eligibility changes.
 
GPs can access both oral antivirals through the Prescriber Bag, a move introduced after RACGP lobbying to allow doctors enhanced access to the treatments for urgent use among the most vulnerable.
 
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antivirals Bag COVID-19 oral Paxlovid PBS Prescriber


newsGP weekly poll Which of the below incentive amounts (paid annually) would be sufficient to encourage you to provide eight consultations and two care plans to a residential aged care patient per year?
 
0%
 
1%
 
4%
 
4%
 
34%
 
54%
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newsGP weekly poll Which of the below incentive amounts (paid annually) would be sufficient to encourage you to provide eight consultations and two care plans to a residential aged care patient per year?

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