Rogers Pharmacy

Customers stand at the counter on Wednesday at Rogers Pharmacy. It will be some time before pharmacies such as Rogers have access to a pill to fight COVID-19 that is awaiting FDA emergency-use approval.

A new defense to COVID-19 is on its way in the form of a post-infection pill, but there are some misconceptions regarding its use.

Pharmaceutical company Merck is seeking FDA approval for a pill called molnupiravir, but the drug is not a preventative. Rather, it is a post-infection medication meant to lessen COVID-19 effects.

The pill is most effective when the virus is caught early, said Rex Robinson of Rogers Pharmacy.

Although it reduces symptoms of the virus, Robinson said it should not be looked at as an alternative to vaccination, which he said is still the most reliable source of defense.

“It’s another tool to use, but I wouldn’t want to rely on it as a sole defense component to that, but that’s my opinion,” Robinson said.

Robinson said this pill won’t be available at a pharmacy like Rogers for a while, due to it needing FDA emergency-use approval. And even then, he has some questions about the price of the medication. Robinson said he has been told that without insurance the medication could cost about $700.

“It’s an antiviral medication that can be used in various formulations to treat flu or the shingles or what have you, so it goes into the virus and mutates it, which can be kind of scary when you think about that,” Robinson said.

Robinson said this pill is not a saving grace to end COVID-19.

“I hate to see it as a reason to not be vaccinated,” Robinson said. “I understand the reluctance of some people to not go that route, but I don’t know that I would look at this as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in that regard.”

Clayton Anderson can be reached at clayton.anderson@newspressnow.com. Follow him on twitter: @NPNowAnderson.

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