Two years and countless studies and tests later, we are well positioned against the coronavirus. Doctors have a whole range of medicines at their disposal to prevent patients from developing serious illness. But which are they, who gets them and how do they work? Dr Thérèse Staub, Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL), explains.
Lëtzebuerger Journal: What exactly is Paxlovid and how does it work?
Dr Thérèse Staub: Paxlovid is a drug that combines two active substances. The first active ingredient (Nirmatrelvir, ed.) is antiviral and prevents the virus from multiplying in the organism. The second active ingredient (Ritonavir, ed.) ensures that the former remains in the blood for a long time. It increases the concentration of the first active ingredient in the blood. Antiviral drugs must be taken as soon as possible. In the first five days of the disease – otherwise they no longer work.
What other medicines are on the market?
There is another drug called Molnupiravir, which is sold under the name Lagevrio. However, this drug has not received marketing authorisation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA ed.).
Because the studies have not shown sufficient efficiency. You can prescribe it in Luxembourg – and we do – but the patient has to sign that he agrees to take it. What is potentially problematic about Paxlovid is that there are many interactions with other medicines. There is a website where we can check interactions with other medicines. These occur, for example, in connection with taking medicines that thin the blood, medicines for cholesterol or immunosuppressants (substances that reduce the functions of the immune system ed.) that people take who have had an organ donation. If you are taking one of these medicines, it is very difficult to take Paxlovid. In that case, Lagevrio may be prescribed. However, the pharmacies in the capital only stock Paxlovid. Lagevrio has to be collected from the CHL or other hospital pharmacies.
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