The first two oral treatments for COVID-19 have been approved for use in Australia by the country’s medical regulator.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has granted provisional approval to the Pfizer-made Paxlovid, along with Lagevrio, made by pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp and Dohme.
The treatments will be able to be used in adults with COVID-19 who do not require additional oxygen but are at risk of hospitalisation or death from the virus.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the drugs would be used alongside other COVID-19 treatment options.
“[The treatments] have been found to be effective in treating people with mild to moderate COVID-19 who have a high risk of progressing to severe disease, reducing admission to hospital and ICU and potential death,” Mr Hunt said.
“These oral antiviral treatments need a prescription and are taken every 12 hours for five days. They are designed to interfere with the virus’s ability to multiply.”
The medical regulator said the treatment, however, was not a substitute for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The federal government has secured 500,000 courses of Paxlovid and 300,000 courses of Lagevrio.
It’s expected the first deliveries of the treatments will arrive in coming weeks.
Both oral treatments have already been approved for use by the US and British health authorities.
Mr Hunt said the drugs wouldn’t be used for everyone who contracted COVID-19.
“These treatments will be of most benefit for people most at risk of severe disease and through the oversight from a healthcare professional,” he said.
“We are working to target access to those most vulnerable, including the elderly and those in aged care.”
Merck Sharp and Dohme medical director Gary Jankelowitz said the provisional approval of Lagevrio was a major achievement in the fight against COVID-19.
“Lagevrio has the potential to help address a medical need in the community,” he said.
“The provisional approval of this oral anti-viral treatment for COVID-19 in eligible at-risk adults is a regulatory milestone.”