covid-19 pill

COVID Antiviral Pills Arrive at Locations in Pennsylvania and NJ

Both pills are now available at 100 locations in Pennsylvania, including more than 30 in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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What to Know

Antiviral pills that can help treat newly infected COVID-19 patients have arrived at pharmacies throughout the country, including the Philadelphia region.

In December U.S. regulators authorized Pfizer's pill, Paxlovid, and Merck’s molnupiravir. In high-risk patients, both were shown to reduce the chances of hospitalization or death from COVID-19, although Pfizer's was much more effective.

Both pills are now available at 100 locations in Pennsylvania, including more than 30 in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The pills are also available at more than 50 locations in New Jersey, the majority being Walgreens.

Molnupiravir is also available at one location in Delaware, 1601 Kirkwood Highway in Wilmington.

You can find all the locations in our area and beyond here.

A closer look at the pills:


The antiviral pills aren’t for everyone who gets a positive test. The pills are intended for those with mild or moderate COVID-19 who are more likely to become seriously ill. That includes older people and those with other health conditions like heart disease, cancer or diabetes that make them more vulnerable.

Both pills were OK'd for adults while Paxlovid is authorized for children ages 12 and older.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Merck’s anti-viral COVID-19 pill molnupiravir for emergency use.


Merck’s molnupiravir is not authorized for children because it might interfere with bone growth. It also isn't recommended for pregnant women because of the potential for birth defects.

Pfizer's pill isn't recommended for patients with severe kidney or liver problems. It also may not be the best option for some because it may interact with other prescriptions a patient is taking.

The antiviral pills aren't authorized for people hospitalized with COVID-19.


The pills have to be started as soon as possible, within five days of the start of symptoms. Cough, headache, fever, the loss of taste or smell and muscle and body aches are among the more common signs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a website to check your symptoms.

Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease specialist at Duke University Hospital, advises getting a test as soon as you have symptoms of COVID-19.

“If you wait until you have started to get breathless, you have already to a large extent missed the window where these drugs will be helpful,” Wolfe said.

Surging cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19, along with a noticed decline in immunity a few months after the vaccine, are leading to a call for getting a 3rd dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. But it's still unclear what will be recommended for people who received the Johnson & Johnson shot. Dr. Aditi Nerurkar from Harvard explains what we know and we don't about the booster shots plans.


You'll need a prescription first from a doctor or other authorized health worker. The U.S. government bought the pills from Merck and Pfizer and provided them for free, but supplies will be limited initially. They were shipped to states where they are available at drugstores, community health centers and other places. Treatment lasts five days. You can find the full list of locations here.

Some pharmacists may be able to administer a quick COVID-19 test and prescribe the pills all in one visit. They already do this in many states for flu or strep throat.


The pills are expected to be effective against omicron because they don’t target the spike protein where most of the variant’s worrisome mutations reside. The two pills work in different ways to prevent the virus from reproducing.


Yes, but they aren't as easy to use as a pill: They are given by IV or injection, typically at a hospital or clinic. Three drugs provide virus-fighting antibodies, although laboratory testing suggests the two aren’t effective against omicron.

British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline's antibody drug appears to work, and officials say they are working to increase the U.S. supply. The only antiviral drug approved in the U.S., remdesivir, is for people hospitalized with COVID-19.

AP Health Writer Matthew Perrone contributed to this report.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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