ATLANTA — The new antiviral pills to treat COVID patients, which show promise in reducing symptoms and keeping patients out of the hospital, are arriving in Georgia this week--in small quantities, at first. Pharmacists say demand is already through the roof.
“I mean, our phones have been ringing non-stop,” said Pharmacist Dhara Patel, of Unadilla Drug Co., in Unadilla, GA—and she hasn’t even received her shipment, yet.
Patel said she’s already getting calls from COVID patients and their doctors, wanting the new medicine. It’s given by prescription only.
Patel expects to receive a small number of pills by the end of the week, and more doses, later.
“Well, I feel like it should help people,” Patel said. "It has been really crazy. So many people, right now, are testing positive, and they really don’t have very many options, at this point.”
The entire state of Georgia is receiving 9,120 doses of the medicines, in its initial allotment from the federal government—7,500 doses of Merck's molnupiravir and 1,620 doses of Pfizer's paxolvid. There are currently more than 16,000 people testing positive each day, in Georgia.
The state is allocating the pills to about 50 pharmacies spread across the state, including Ben Ross’s pharmacy--Forest Heights Pharmacy--in Statesboro.
His is the only drug store in several surrounding counties to get any doses at all in the initial shipments. He said doctors and patients are calling him, wanting the medicines as soon as he receives them.
“There’s clearly way more demand than supply, at this point,” Ross said. “This is going to be just a great tool that we have to treat COVID with, and we’re all excited about that.”
“I think it could be ground shattering,” said Pharmacist Alex Wills, of Wills of Wills Drug Company in Ocilla.
Wills said he just tested eleven people at his drug store for infection, and eight of them tested positive for COVID-19—and he said all eight of them were asking him for the new medicines that he hopes to have by the end of the week.
But he does not expect to receive enough, yet, for everyone who wants the pills.
“It’s been pretty overwhelming with the amount of calls that we’ve had already, just asking about when we’re going to be receiving them,” Wills said. “With the severity that this virus has caused, I think it’s a no-brainer for people to want this so much.... I think it definitely shows the need for this treatment.”
The federal government is promising to increase supplies and shipments to Georgia and the rest of the country beginning later this month.