Questions-and-Answers-Treatment-Information-for-Providers-and-Facilities Questions and Answers: Treatment Information for Providers and Facilities

Questions and Answers: Treatment Information for Providers and Facilities

Updates as of February 10th, 2023: 

  • Updated to reflect FDA revoking EUA for Evusheld due to loss of protection from circulating COVID-19 variants.

Introduction 

Frequently Asked Questions About Outpatient Treatments for SARS-CoV-2 

Treatment for Acute Infection

1. What anti-SARS-CoV-2 outpatient treatment options are available?

2. Who is a candidate for anti-SARS-CoV-2 outpatient treatment?

3. Can children be prescribed anti-SARS-CoV-2 outpatient treatments?

4. Can a patient who is hospitalized due to COVID-19 receive anti-SARS-CoV-2 outpatient treatment?

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis

5. What SARS-CoV-2 post-exposure prophylaxis options are available?

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis

6. What SARS-CoV-2 pre-exposure prophylaxis options are available?

General Questions

7. How do I determine if my patient qualifies for anti-SARS-CoV-2 outpatient treatment or prophylaxis? 

8. Are there recommendations for which therapies should be preferred in nonhospitalized patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of progressing to severe disease?

9. Where can I find guidance on patient prioritization for outpatient therapeutics when there are logistical or supply constraints?

10. Where can I find information on the side effects of available COVID-19 therapeutics and criteria for use, preparation, and administration?

11. My patient qualifies for anti-SARS-CoV-2 treatment or prophylaxis. What should I do next?

12. How will my facility be reimbursed for the cost of administering anti-SARS-CoV-2 treatment or prophylaxis?

Introduction 

Several COVID-19 outpatient therapeutic options are available in the United States, including those for treatment of acute infection, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and post-exposure prophylaxis. Treatments can be ordered for eligible patients based on exposure status, symptoms, and risk factors for severe disease progression, as outlined in the NIH treatment guidelines for non-hospitalized patients. Ultimately, COVID-19 treatments play an important role in preventing illness and helping people recover from COVID-19, with the goal of saving lives, reducing hospitalizations, and releasing pressure on stressed hospital systems.  For more information about the available outpatient treatments, please refer to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Side-by-Side Overview of Therapies (PDF).

Overview of COVID-19 Outpatient Treatment Options

SARS-CoV-2 Negative (-)

Not Exposed

Exposed

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

Currently no authorized trea​​t​ments


Currently no au​thorized treatments

SARS-CoV-2 Positive (+)

Mild to Moderate Illness in Individual at High Risk for Disease Progression

Treatment options, in order of preference:

1. Niramtrelivr/ritonavir (Paxlovid)

2. Remdesivir (Veklury)

If above options are unavailable or not medically appropriate, can consider:

3. Molnupiravir (Lagevrio)

Antiviral Treatments

Antiviral medications interfere with viral processes. Like monoclonal antibodies, antivirals reduce the risk of severe disease in individuals with mild to moderate COVID-19. They are currently only approved for treatment of COVID-19 disease and not as a pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis.

Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibody (mAb) Treatments

As of January 26, 2023, there are no monoclonal antibody treatments currently authorized for the treatment of COVID-19 or for pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Monoclonal antibodies are synthetic proteins that mimic the immune system's ability to fight off harmful antigens such as viruses. Monoclonal antibodies are directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and block the virus' attachment and entry into human cells.

Specific monoclonal antibody treatments have been used to decrease the chances of developing COVID-19 before an infectious exposure (as a pre-exposure prophylaxis) in certain at-risk individuals.

Frequently Asked Questions about Outpatient Treatments for SARS-CoV-2 

 

Treatment for Acute Infection  

 

1. What are the outpatient treatment options for acute infection with COVID-19?

Antiviral Treatments

There are currently two oral SARS-CoV-2 antivirals that have received EUAs from the FDA for outpatient treatment of acute COVID-19 infection - molnupiravir (branded as Lagevrio) and nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (branded as Paxlovid). Additionally, remdesivir (Veklury) is an intravenous antiviral that has FDA approval for inpatient and outpatient treatment of COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients 28 days and older weighing at least 3 kg.

With reports of COVID-19 symptom recurrence after treatment with the oral antiviral agent, Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a health alert on May 24th, 2022 addressing this phenomenon. Although COVID-19 rebound after treatment with Paxlovid has been described in case reports, there is currently no evidence that this rebound is the result of SARS-CoV-2 resistance to Paxlovid. Based on case reports, recurrent symptoms after treatment with Paxlovid appear to be mild. Because the goal of Paxlovid treatment is avoiding progression to severe disease, recurrent mild to moderate symptoms do not indicate treatment failure. Individuals with COVID-19 symptom recurrence show follow CDC and CDPH guidance regarding isolation of infected patients regardless of their treatment status. Paxlovid continues to be recommended for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 among persons at high risk for progression to severe disease.

On July 6, 2022, the FDA updated the Paxlovid EUA to allow pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid to patients if specific conditions are met. 

Monoclonal Antibody Treatments



There are four anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies that have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, with the predominance of the Omicron variant and new subvarients throughout the United States, there are currently no authorized monoclonal antibody treatments available. Because they are ineffective against the Omicron variant and subvariants, bamlanivimab/etesevimab, casirivimab/imdevimab (REGEN-COV), sotrovimab, and bebtelovimab are not authorized for use in any U.S. states, territories, and jurisdictions at this time.

For more information about the anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies, please refer to the NIH's Table 3c. Characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 Antibody-based Products.  



Drug Route Age groups authorized for treatment Timing of Treatment Effectiveness Activity Against Variants Currently Circulating
Nirmatrelvir 300 mg with ritonavir 100 mg (Paxlovid)
Orally twice daily for 5 days
Oral12 years and older and weighing at least 40 kg
As soon as possible, but within 5 days of symptom onsetCompared to placebo, a relative risk reduction of 89% in hospitalizations or deaths.

Effective against Omicron, including BA.2 and BA.4/5 subvariants
Remdesivir (Veklury)
200 mg IV on Day 1, followed by 100 mg IV daily on Days 2 and 3
For pediatric dosing, see Prescribing Information (PDF).
IntravenousFDA approved for mild to moderately ill adult and pediatric (28 days of age and older weighing at least 3 kilograms) outpatients who are at risk of disease progressionAs soon as possible, but within 7 days of symptom onsetCompared to placebo, a relative risk reduction of 87% in hospitalizations or deaths.Effective against Omicron, including BA.2 and BA.4/5  subvariants
Molnupiravir (Lagevrio) 800 mg
Orally twice daily for 5 days
Oral18 years and older
As soon as possible, but within 5 days of symptom onsetCompared to placebo, a relative risk reduction of 30% in hospitalizations or deaths.Effective against Omicron, including BA.2 and BA.4/5 subvariants

2. Who is a candidate for anti-SARS-COV-2 outpatient treatment?

Antiviral Treatment

  • Nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid) is authorized (PDF) for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients age 12 years and older weighing at least 40 kg with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 including hospitalization or death. Treatment should be started within 5 days of symptom onset. For more information, particularly regarding potential drug-drug interactions and medications that may require dose adjustments when co-administered with nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid), please refer to the NIH page on ritonavir-boosted nirmatrelvir (Paxlovid).  Providers should use an drug interaction checker if there are questions about potential drug interactions.
  • Remdesivir (Veklury) has FDA approval for the treatment (PDF) of COVID-19 in mild to moderately ill adult and pediatric outpatients who are at risk of disease progression. In December 2021, the NIH released a statement with guidance on using IV remdesivir in adult and pediatric patients who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 including hospitalization or death. On January 21, 2022, the FDA granted approval for treatment of COVID-19 in non-hospitalized adult and pediatric patients ages 12 years and older weighing at least 40 kg who are at high risk of progression to severe disease. On April 25, 2022, the FDA expanded the approval to pediatric patients 28 days of age and older weighing at least 3 kilograms (about 7 pounds) with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing. Remdesivir is approved for use in outpatient settings as daily intravenous infusion over three consecutive days. Treatment should be started within 7 days of symptom onset. For more information, please refer to the NIH page on remdesivir and the provider prescribing information (PDF).
  • Molnupiravir (Lagevrio) is authorized (PDF) for the treatment of mild-to-moderate nonpregnant adults (18 years of age and older) with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 including hospitalization or death. Molnupiravir is only authorized for use when alternative FDA authorized or NIH suggested COVID-19 treatment options are not accessible or clinically appropriate. Treatment should be started within 5 days of symptom onset. For more information, please refer to the NIH page on Molnupiravir.
3. Can children be prescribed anti-SARS-CoV-2 outpatient treatments? 

Antiviral Treatment

Paxlovid is authorized for use in children 12 years and older weighing at least 40kg.

Remdesivir is approved for use in mild to moderately ill adult and pediatric (28 days of age and older weighing at least 3 kilograms) outpatients who are at risk of disease progression. For pediatric dosing, see prescriber information (PDF).

Molnupiravir is only authorized for use in individuals 18 years and older due to its potential impact on bone and cartilage development.


4. Can a patient who is hospitalized for COVID-19 receive oral antivirals that are authorized for outpatient treatment? 

Oral antivirals are not authorized for use in patients who are:

  • Hospitalized due to COVID-19, OR
  • Require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19, OR
  • Require an increase in baseline oxygen flow rate due to COVID-19 in those on chronic oxygen therapy due to underlying non-COVID-19 related morbidity

All authorized treatments can be used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients who are hospitalized for a reason other than COVID-19. If a patient requires hospitalization after starting treatment, the full treatment course of nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid) or molnupiravir can be completed at the health care provider's discretion.

Treatments available for patients requiring hospitalization for COVID-19 include remdesivir as well as corticosteroids and other immunomodulatory drugs. Providers should refer to the NIH treatment guidelines for inpatients as well as the Infectious Diseases Society Of America treatment guidelines for guidance on management of patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis  


5. What SARS-CoV-2 post-exposure prophylaxis options are available?

There are currently no FDA approved or authorized treatments for post-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis 


6. What SARS-CoV-2 pre-exposure prophylaxis options are available?


There are currently no FDA approved or authorized treatments for pre-exposure prophylaxis against COVID-19.


General Questions 


7. How do I determine if my patient qualifies for anti-SARS-CoV-2 outpatient treatment or prophylaxis?

Providers should review the NIH treatment guidelines as well as the product fact sheets before prescribing COVID-19 outpatient therapeutics. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has developed a  clinical implementation guide (PDF) as well as an outpatient therapeutics decision guide (PDF).


8. Are there recommendations for which therapies should be preferred in nonhospitalized patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of progressing to severe disease?

According to NIH guidelines, the following therapies are preferred for high-risk, non-hospitalized patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 (in order of preference):

  • Nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid)
  • Remdesivir

Nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid) and remdesivir are preferred treatments due to their 88% to 89% reduction in hospitalization or death in treated patients in randomized, placebo-controlled trials as well as their in vitro neutralization activities against the Omicron variant.

If none of the above therapies are available, feasible to deliver, or clinically appropriate, molnupiravir may be used as alternative therapies.


9. Where can I find guidance on patient prioritization for outpatients therapeutics when there are logistical of supply constraints? 

Currently there is adequate availability of COVID-19 therapeutics throughout the state. For that reason, all patients meeting criteria for treatment as presented in the product EUAs should be offered therapy.

If there are logistic or supply constraints in the future, the NIH treatment guides provide recommendations on patient prioritization for outpatient therapies, including prioritization tiers.


10. Where can I find information on the side effects of available COVID-19 therapeutics and criteria for use, preparation, and administration? 

FDA documentation for antiviral product includes information on use criteria, preparation, contraindications, drug interactions, side effects and administration and product fact sheets can be found at the links below. Detailed COVID-19 clinical treatment guidelines are available from National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA).

While not a complete list of contraindications, the following should be noted:

  • Molnupiravir is not authorized for use in patients less than 18 years of age because it may affect bone and cartilage growth. For more information on these precautions, please see the NIH section on Molnupiravir and the Molnupiravir Fact Sheet (PDF).
  • Paxlovid has significant and complex drug-drug interaction potential, primarily due to the ritonavir component of the combination. Review additional guidance from NIH on identifying and avoiding drug interactions.
  • Paxlovid is not recommended for patients with severe hepatic or renal impairment and different dosing is required for moderate renal impairment. Given the presence of ritonavir, Paxlovid may also increase the risk of HIV-1 resistance to HIV protease inhibitors in individuals with uncontrolled or undiagnosed HIV-1.
  • Remdesivir is not recommended in pediatric patients (greater than 28 days old) with eGFR less than 30 mL/min or in full-term neonates (at least 7 days to less than or equal to 28 days old) with serum creatinine greater than or equal to 1 mg/dL.

Product Fact Sheets

Antivirals


11. My patient qualifies for anti-SARS-CoV-2 outpatient treatment. What should I do next?

All medications for treatment require a prescription by a licensed and authorized provider. Prescribing healthcare providers can locate sites where state-allocated COVID-19 therapeutics are available using the HHS Therapeutics Locator. The Therapeutics Locator is based on shipments and reported utilization and is not a guarantee of availability and the prescribing healthcare provider should ensure supply at the dispensing site.

Patients should be given an electronic or hard copy of the Fact Sheet for the drug prescribed.


12. How will my facility be reimbursed for the cost of administering anti-SARS-CoV-2 outpatient treatment?

The federal government has purchased supplies of Paxlovid and molnupiravir and these products remain free of charge at this time. 

The additional cost of administering the treatment is billed through the usual claims process, based on each patient's health care coverage.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) created the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code J0248 for the remdesivir antiviral medication when administered in the outpatient setting. 

All providers administering or supplying COVID-19 therapeutics currently being distributed through the federal government signed an agreement to not charge patients for drug costs. The agreement specifically reads: 

“Provider agrees to…Not charge patients for drug costs. HHS is making COVID-19 therapeutics available at no cost to authorized providers. Dispense COVID-19 therapeutics regardless of the therapeutic recipient’s coverage status or ability to pay for COVID-19 therapeutics dispensing fees. Provider may seek appropriate reimbursement from a program or plan that covers COVID-19 therapeutics dispensing fees for the therapeutics recipient. Costs should not be a barrier to patient access for these medications.” 

The provider agreement signed by all Test-to-Treat sites states that sites agree to:

“Not sell or seek reimbursement for publicly funded COVID-19 therapeutics that the federal government provides at no cost to Organization. Dispense COVID-19 therapeutics regardless of the therapeutic recipient’s coverage status or ability to pay for COVID-19 therapeutics dispensing fees. Organization may seek appropriate reimbursement from a program or plan that covers COVID-19 therapeutics dispensing fees for the therapeutics recipient. Organization may not seek any reimbursement, including through balance billing, from the therapeutic recipient. Organization may not charge an office visit or other fee if dispensing of the COVID-19 therapeutic is the sole medical service provided. Organization may not require additional unrelated medical or other services or purchases as a condition precedent to receive the COVID-19 therapeutic.”

All of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partners (i.e., major chain pharmacies) and their sites signed an agreement stating that:

“Organization must not sell or seek reimbursement for publicly funded COVID-19 therapeutics that the federal government provides at no cost to Organization. Organization must dispense COVID-19 therapeutics regardless of the therapeutic recipient’s coverage status or ability to pay for COVID-19 therapeutics dispensing fees. Organization may seek appropriate reimbursement from a program or plan that covers COVID-19 therapeutics dispensing fees for the therapeutics recipient. Organization may not seek any reimbursement, including through balance billing, from the therapeutic recipient. Organization may not charge an office visit or other fee if dispensing of the COVID-19 therapeutic is the sole medical service provided.  Organization may not require additional unrelated medical or other services or purchases as a condition precedent to receive the COVID-19 therapeutic.


Originally published on January 19, 2022