StarMed Healthcare offers first antiviral pill to treat NC COVID-19 patients

CHARLOTTE — StarMed Healthcare said Tuesday it is now offering the first antiviral pill available for North Carolina COVID-19 patients.

Patients can receive the pills at the Freemore location on Tuckaseegee Road in west Charlotte, free of charge. StarMed said it has a limited supply.

The pill is only available for high-risk patients, and they must pass an eligibility screening by one of their health care providers prior to receiving the medication. There is no charge for the screening.

The pill, which is manufactured by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is named molnupiravir.

COVID-19 patients will be able to register for treatment at that location for free, with or without insurance.

Advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended emergency use authorization of the treatment on Nov. 30. If the FDA approves it, the pill will be distributed. Upon approval, StarMed Healthcare will mail prescriptions overnight to patients throughout North Carolina.

StarMed Healthcare plans to expand the pill treatment to its other locations throughout Charlotte and North Carolina. The pill treatment lasts for five days and is most effective if patients begin within five days of being diagnosed with COVID-19.

StarMed Healthcare’s chief medical officer, Dr. Arin Piramzadian, said they are excited to offer the treatment.

“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,” he said.

Current COVID-19 treatments require infusion which requires a trip to a clinic or hospital. This new pill treatment could ultimately reduce the number of hospitalizations.

StarMed Healthcare says the new pill treatment works like most antiviral drugs, preventing the SARS-CoV-2 from replicating. They say doctors hope they can treat COVID-19 much the way they do the flu using Tamiflu, an antiviral pill that’s used to prevent serious flu symptoms.

In each case, the sooner after diagnosis the medicine is taken, the better the chances of avoiding serious illness.

(WATCH BELOW: FDA: Merck COVID-19 pill is effective, more input on adverse reactions needed)