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StarMed planning to offer COVID-19 antiviral pill to patients, pending FDA authorization

If the FDA gives it the green light, StarMed says it will be ready to hit the ground running. That FDA authorization could come as soon as this month.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — StarMed Healthcare announced it will be offering the first antiviral pill available to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 symptoms, once it is authorized by the FDA. The pill, named molnupiravir, was manufactured by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

RELATED: FDA panel narrowly backs COVID-19 pill from Merck

If the FDA gives it the green light, StarMed says it will be ready to hit the ground running. That FDA authorization could come as soon as this month.

“We’re hoping to be part of the solution," Dr. Arin Piramzadian, StarMed Healthcare’s chief medical officer, said.  "The federal government gives it to the states then the states decide where they will give it to."

Right now Merck has about 2.5 million doses of the anti-viral pill, Pfizer has about 10 million doses. Yet still, that doesn't compare to the 360 million Americans nationwide who could potentially get sick with COVID-19.

“It’s going to be very limited supply, targeted to a small population where it’s going to be the most beneficial," Piramzadian said.

Eligible recipients of the pill include those 16 years and older and who have a significant risk factor. Due to potential complications, doctors say the Merck pill will not be given to expecting mothers.

The pill treatment is for five days and is most effective if you begin as soon as you’re diagnosed with COVID-19, according to StarMed.

“We are excited to offer this treatment that can decrease the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and the chance of hospitalization and death,” Piramzadian said. “We look forward to helping patients who have tested positive and can benefit from this pill treatment. But this isn’t a substitute for a COVID-19 vaccination, which is still your best defense against the virus.”

On Nov. 30, advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended emergency use authorization of the treatment. If approved, the pills will begin being distributed and StarMed Healthcare will mail prescriptions overnight to patients throughout North Carolina.  

“We have a plan in place if we do get it to dispense it throughout the whole state through local pharmacies or overnight mail," Piramzadian said.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published on Dec. 2, then temporarily removed as StarMed said its news release on the matter was shared prematurely. 

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