The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) announced on Thursday that New Mexico will receive its first delivery of oral therapeutics to treat early COVID-19 infections later this week - an important addition to the state’s treatment toolkit.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have consistently recommended the use of monoclonal antibody (mAbs) treatments for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of experiencing severe outcomes. For most patients, monoclonal antibody infusions will remain the preferred treatment. However, for patients who do not have access to monoclonal antibody infusion, oral therapeutics will significantly increase access to treatment.
Supply of the oral medications will be very limited initially, and demand is anticipated to exceed the available supply.
As a result, access to oral therapeutics will initially be available only to counties without monoclonal antibody infusion sites, as well as areas with limited access to monoclonal antibody infusions. New Mexicans in these communities generally have more difficulty accessing medical care, so prioritizing patients in these areas will help increase access to COVID-19 treatment and reduce hospitalizations. As supply becomes more readily available, criteria will expand to include all counties and all eligible patients.
“These oral therapeutics are more evidence of our capacity to respond skillfully and creatively to a changing COVID landscape. By taking advantage of the full range of COVID treatments - including vaccinations and therapeutics - we protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said DOH Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Parajon.
Last week, the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorizations (EUA) for Molnupiravir and Paxlovid. These antiviral medications reduce the ability of a virus to replicate, decreasing the total amount of virus in the body. Antiviral medications reduce the symptoms of a viral infection and shorten the length of illness. Both oral treatments are expected to remain effective against the new Omicron variant because they do not target the spike protein where most of the strain’s worrisome mutations reside. However, the medications must be started within 5 days of symptom onset. New Mexicans should get tested and talk to their provider about treatment options at the first sign of COVID-19 disease.
Risk factors associated with more severe outcomes from COVID-19 illness include but are not limited to:
- Age 65 years and older
- Obesity / BMI 35+
- Chronic kidney disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic respiratory disease
Providers may direct additional questions to COVID.Therapeutics@state.nm.us