Oral Treatments

Oral Treatments

In January 2022, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved Lagevrio® and Paxlovid® oral treatments for COVID-19. These medicines are used for the treatment of COVID-19 in adults with mild to moderate illness, who are at higher risk of developing severe disease. The aim of treatment is to prevent high risk patients from deteriorating and needing hospitalisation.

Lagevrio® (molnupirivir) and Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir) are both listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for eligible patients and can be accessed on prescription through community pharmacy. These oral COVID-19 treatments are not suitable for everyone, and individual patients will need to be assessed by their prescriber to determine whether they are suitable.

These treatments are antiviral medicines that stop the virus that causes COVID-19 from replicating in the body. This lowers the risk of developing severe disease.

To achieve the best outcomes, oral COVID-19 treatments need to be started as soon as possible after a COVID-19 diagnosis, and no later than 5 days after diagnosis.

Expanded eligibility criteria for COVID oral antiviral Treatments from 11 July 2022

The new eligibility includes updated age limits and risk factors summarised below.

Older Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who test positive for COVID-19.

  • 70 years or older
  • 50 years or older with 2 risk factors
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, 30 years or older and with 2 risk factors.

Risk factors include:

  • living in residential aged care
  • living with disability with multiple conditions and/or frailty (but not limited to living in supported accommodation)
  • neurological conditions like stroke or dementia and demyelinating conditions e.g. multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • chronic respiratory conditions including COPD, moderate or severe asthma
  • obesity or diabetes (type I or II requiring medication)
  • congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies
  • kidney failure or cirrhosis
  • living remotely with reduced access to higher level healthcare.

People aged 18 years and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and test positive for COVID-19.

Conditions include:

  • blood cancer or some red blood cell disorders (thalassemia, sickle cell disease)
  • transplant recipient
  • primary or acquired (HIV) immunodeficiency
  • chemotherapy or whole-body radiotherapy in the last 3 months
  • high dose corticosteroids or pulse corticosteroid therapy in the last 3 months
  • immunosuppressive treatments in the last 3 months
  • rituximab in the last 12 months
  • cerebral palsy or down syndrome
  • congenital heart disease
  • living with disability with multiple conditions and/or frailty

Yes, a prescription is required to access Lagevrio® or Paxlovid® through a community pharmacy.

It is important that your prescriber and pharmacist are aware of other medicines that you are taking, including non-prescription and complementary medicines, so that they can advise if any medicines need to be adjusted during treatment for COVID-19.

You can search Find a Pharmacy to see the pharmacies in your area that stock oral COVID-19 treatments. Your pharmacy may not have stock of these medicines on a particular day if patient demand has been high.