Paxlovid COVID-19 antiviral drug is now available in PEI pharmacies


CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — Paxlovid, a treatment for COVID-19, is now available at PEI community pharmacies with just a phone consultation.

The antiviral drug has been available in Prince Edward Island since January 2022 and should be started as soon as possible within the first five days of COVID-19 symptoms, according to a news release sent from the province on January 12.

Erin MacKenzie, executive director of the PEI Pharmacists Association, said the service is a welcome addition to pharmacists’ scope of practice.

“There is now another way that people who test positive for COVID-19 can be tested to see if Paxlovid treatment is appropriate for them,” MacKenzie said when called by the SaltWire Network on Jan. 12.

If someone tests positive and may be eligible for Paxlovid (over 50 or over 18 with certain health conditions), they can call a pharmacy and be assessed to see if Paxlovid is right for them. That pharmacist can fill the prescription.

“It was difficult not to have access because you had to suffer. That was wrong.”

karen rice

No family doctor

This could have made a difference for Karen Rice.

She is now recovered from her bout of COVID-19, but said the new service would have helped her a lot when she was sick over the summer.

Rice said she couldn’t get Paxlovid at all because she didn’t have a GP and nowhere to go, she said when she spoke to the SaltWire Network from her home in western PEI on January 12.

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“If you have COVID, you were restricted, you had to isolate, so where do you go? There was no choice,” Rice said, adding that she would have gladly taken the treatment after hearing from a co-worker that it had been a great help.

But by the time Rice determined that he might be eligible for Paxlovid, the opportunity had been missed.

“It was hard not having access to him, because you had to suffer. It was bad,” she said. “So yes, this is an option for many of us who don’t have family doctors on the island.”

Fast facts

Residents of Prince Edward Island who have tested positive for COVID-19 can now access it at community pharmacies, providing more convenient and timely access to care closer to home.

Islanders may be eligible for antiviral treatment if they meet the following criteria:

• Have a positive test result for COVID-19, including a rapid test

• Are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 that developed in the last five days

• You are 18 years of age or older with underlying medical conditions that lead to a high risk of serious outcomes

• OR is an indigenous person over 18 years of age

• Or you are 50 years of age or older

call ahead

MacKenzie recommends calling the pharmacy ahead of time to make sure the service is available that day.

“Typically, screening will be done over the phone because you don’t want sick people spreading their disease to the public,” he said.

Contacting the pharmacy is just one more way to access antiviral medication. Islanders can also be evaluated and prescribed Paxlovid by their primary care provider or by calling 811.

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There is no charge to the patient for the evaluation or the prescription, MacKenzie said.

Erin McKenzie, CEO of the PEIPharmacists' Association, speaks at Murphy's Cornwall Pharmacy on October 18.  On January 12, the province announced that pharmacists will be able to test and prescribe Paxlovid for patients with COVID-19.  -Alison Jenkins
Erin McKenzie, CEO of the PEIPharmacists’ Association, speaks at Murphy’s Cornwall Pharmacy on October 18. On January 12, the province announced that pharmacists will be able to test and prescribe Paxlovid for patients with COVID-19. -Alison Jenkins

“Essentially, regardless of where you access the assessment, you don’t have to pay out of pocket as it is a publicly funded program,” he said.

Until now, Paxlovid supplies were limited by provincial allocations.

“The big change here is that we’re improving the accessibility of the service and letting people know that it’s another option for them,” he said. “That goes hand-in-hand with more widely available Paxlovid prescriptions that will also be filled across the province.”


Public Health Director Dr. Heather Morrison said collaboration between the government, Health PEI and healthcare providers, including pharmacists and pharmacy teams, has played an important role during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Having more convenient access to Paxlovid prescription and treatment through participating community pharmacies is another important step in our efforts to protect islanders from COVID-19; however, it is not a substitute for vaccination.”

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