College of GPs urges patients to get the right advice before starting COVID-19 antiviral medication

29 July 2022

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners is encouraging patients to get the right advice before starting a course of COVID-19 antiviral medications.

Following changes initiated by the Government, as of yesterday (28 July), patients can be written back pocket scripts (‘advance scripts’) or receive COVID-19 antiviral medications from a pharmacist, without a prescription from a doctor.

Community pharmacists who have undertaken a short online training course can dispense these medications to patients after a consultation.

College Medical Director Dr Bryan Betty says it’s important COVID-19 antiviral medications get to the right patients, at the right time. 

“Patients who are at risk of poor outcomes or hospitalisation need to be able to access these medications, however, we need to acknowledge these medications are not without risk.

“COVID-19 antiviral medications have side effects and can interact with other medications. This means in some cases; a patient may need to stop other medications completely or need to adjust the dose of other medication they are taking. 

“For patients seeking these antiviral medications, it’s important to ask about the potential side-effects of the antivirals by themselves, and potential interactions with other medications they may be taking, including over the counter natural remedies."