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Oral COVID-19 treatment to arrive in South Korea

  • Date : 2022-01-14
  • Hit : 172

Oral COVID-19 treatment to arrive in South Korea


Jan 13, 2022

On January 13 (Thursday), the first shipment of 210,000 doses of Pfizer’s oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid will be arriving in Korea.

The government signed a contract to pre-purchase a total of 10.04 million doses of the oral medicine – 762,000 with Pfizer Korea and 242,000 with MSD Korea. The oral treatment Paxlovid developed by Pfizer was approved for emergency use in Korea on December 27 last year, after safety and efficacy reviews from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

The initial supply of Pfizer's oral treatment will be introduced in Korea on Thursday, January 13 (for 210,000 people), and by the end of January, an additional supply (for 10,000 people) will be introduced.

The introduction of this oral treatment is expected to be introduced fairly quickly compared to other countries, and it is expected to slow the spread of the virus and help counter the Omicron variant.

The edible medicines that arrive in Korea will be promptly delivered to living treatment centers and pharmacies in charge, and will be administered to patients from January 14th.

The oral antiviral to be introduced this time will be administered first to COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms who are at high risk of progressing to severe disease within 5 days of symptom onset, among those aged 65 years or older or immunocompromised, receiving at-home treatment or treatment at a residential facility center.

In the case of patients in residential treatment centers, existing treatments such as Regkirona antibody treatment will be considered first.

In consideration of the fact that hospitals and nursing hospitals can provide professional and intensive medical care and can provide existing treatments, priority is to be given to residential treatment centers and home care.

The treatment will be provided to limited eligible patients first in light of the limited initial supply due to heavy global demand for COVID-19 therapeutics. Eligibility will be expanded and adjusted flexibly going forward according to supply volume and case trend data.

Patients receiving at-home treatment (under self-isolation) can receive Paxlovid pills from their local government or designated pharmacies after non-face-to-face medical consultation. Patients in residential treatment centers can receive the drug through the healthcare team for the facility.

Patients receiving at-home treatment can check whether they are eligible through non-face-to-face medical consultation with the hospital or clinic providing at-home treatment. The patient’s family member or carer needs to visit the pharmacy to receive the medicine. If this is not possible, the patient can request to have the pills delivered via local government or public health center or pharmacy. In the case of delivery, the person a local government official will check delivery and receipt.

For safe and accurate use of therapeutics, the government thoroughly checks medical and prescription history, inventory management, monitoring, and damage compensation. As there are many medicines that should not be taken together with Paxlovid, the Drug Utilization Review (DUR) already in place in Korea (which can be used to look up prescription history) will be used to help ensure safe administration of the drug. The medical staff determines whether to administer the drug by checking the patient’s prescription history (using DUR) through the related system, and the pharmacy in charge also double-checks the prescription history before dispensing the drug.

In January, the related system will be expanded so that medical institutions can check underlying diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure through the “Residential Treatment Center/At-Home Treatment Support System”.

To ensure stable prescription and dispensing even at night and on holidays, each local government plans to manage operating hours in consultation with medical institutions and pharmacies in charge.

The medical staff in charge will check daily for whether the patient took the pill and if any adverse events occurred and refer the patient to face-to-face consultation if necessary.

// For inquiries contact Media Relations, Ministry of Health and Welfare (kimmonica@korea.kr)



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