The Food and Drug Administration has authorized pharmacists across the United States to prescribe Paxlovid, Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral treatment pill, to eligible patients.
On Wednesday, the agency announced the decision to revise the emergency use authorization for the COVID treatment. Individuals who test positive for COVID and want to determine their eligibility to take Paxlovid can bring a list of their current medications and health records detailing kidney or liver problems to their pharmacist for review.
Patients with reduced kidney function may require a lower dose of Paxlovid, per the FDA.
"The FDA recognizes the important role pharmacists have played and continue to play in combatting this pandemic," said Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director for the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a release. "Since Paxlovid must be taken within five days after symptoms begin, authorizing state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid could expand access to timely treatment for some patients who are eligible to receive this drug for the treatment of COVID-19."
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Back in April, the Biden Administration announced plans for Paxlovid to be made "widely available," Dr. Ashish Jha, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator, said on Twitter.
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"Months ago, Paxlovid was scarce. With lots of work, this is no longer the case," Jha wrote at the time. "Over the next week, you'll hear a lot more about what the Biden Administration is doing to make Pax widely available and easily accessible to all Americans."
"What are we working on? A lot more places where Pax will be available including more test-to-treat, education for providers to use it more regularly for eligible patients, and more," he continued. "Paxlovid is extraordinarily effective at preventing bad outcomes. We're getting it out to the American people."
The Test to Treat initiative was launched earlier this year in order to give Americans easy access to COVID treatment, with "one-stop sites" to get tested for COVID-19 and then be prescribed with free oral antiviral medications.
Pfizer/AFP via Getty Pfizer's COVID-19 anti-viral treatment Paxlovid
In March, 35 manufacturers around the world signed on to produce the generic version of Paxlovid. The tablet has shown the capacity to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death for high-risk adults with COVID-19 by 89%.
The FDA first granted Paxlovid emergency use authorization in November 2021 for use in patients age 12 or older who are at a high risk of developing severe COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions.
Each pack of Paxlovid contains 30 tablets taken over the course of five days. According to Yale Medicine, the pill is effective against the highly contagious COVID-19 omicron variant.
Yale Medicine infectious diseases specialist, Scott Roberts, believes the pill "shows clear benefit."
"I think it is the beginning of a game-changer," said Roberts. "It's really our first efficacious oral antiviral pill for this virus. It shows clear benefit, and it really can prevent hospitalization and death in people who are at high risk."