12.8 C
Sydney
Tuesday, August 9, 2022

RACGP backs minister’s announcement that anti-viral access to more widely available

Must read

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says it welcomes the expansion of COVID-19 antiviral treatment access.

It follows Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler announcing that eligibility for lifesaving COVID-19 antiviral treatments will be widened.

From today, access will be expanded under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to the following patients who test positive to COVID-19:

  • all those aged over 70
  • people aged over 50 with two or more risk factors for severe disease
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged over 30 with two or more risk factors for severe disease
  • immunocompromised people over 18 may also be eligible.

RACGP vice president Dr Bruce Willett welcomed the expansion.

In communities everywhere, we have high rates of community transmission of COVID-19, and we know that some patients are particularly vulnerable to severe effects. By expanding access to the antivirals, we can help keep people out of hospital, relieve pressure on the entire health system and save lives.

RACGP vice president, Dr Bruce Willett

“This is a sound and timely decision that will make a real difference for many patients across Australia,” he said.

“In communities everywhere, we have high rates of community transmission of COVID-19, and we know that some patients are particularly vulnerable to severe effects.

“By expanding access to the antivirals, we can help keep people out of hospital, relieve pressure on the entire health system and save lives.”

Willett said that once again GPs and general practice teams will be front and centre.

“General practice is the backbone of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and we play an essential role getting people timely access to these potentially lifesaving antivirals,” he said.

“GPs are the key to safely prescribing these treatments.

“We have a strong and, in many cases, long-standing connection with our patients and understand their life circumstances including existing health conditions or other factors such as plans to become pregnant.

“We also have a comprehensive understanding of how these antivirals interact with other drugs and established systems such as telehealth, so GPs can speak with COVID-19-positive patients safely and prescribe the right antiviral without delay.”

Expanding eligibility is vital; however, we must also enhance community awareness around antivirals and ensure that those patient groups most vulnerable to severe effects from the virus access these drugs. They can save your life if taken early enough.

Dr Willett

Willett said that more must be done to fight complacency and contain the harm caused by COVID-19.

“Expanding eligibility is vital; however, we must also enhance community awareness around antivirals and ensure that those patient groups most vulnerable to severe effects from the virus access these drugs.

“They can save your life if taken early enough,” he said.

Willett said that people who believe they are eligible for an antiviral should make an appointment with their GP now to plan how they can receive the drugs if they test positive.

“Because the drugs are listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, a GP will not be able to prescribe an antiviral until the patient actually has COVID-19,” he said.

“So, for those eligible — as soon as you get a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) or a positive PCR test, call your GP and, if you can’t talk to them, leave a phone message to say you have tested positive and you need a prescription.

The reason this is so important, Willett explained, is that with these treatments acting quickly is of the essence.

“The antivirals have to be given within five days, and they become less effective as you get closer to day five,” he said.

“So, getting that message out there is essential, and I encourage everyone to have conversations with people in their life about these treatments.”

- Advertisement -

Leave a Reply

Latest article

- Advertisement -
Processing...
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Email newsletter sign-up
ErrorHere