About oral treatments for COVID-19
You need to start oral antiviral treatments within 5 days of symptoms starting or testing positive for COVID-19.
If you are 70 years or older or at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, it is important to speak to your GP about oral treatments before you get sick. You should then contact them for a script as soon as you test positive.
There are two COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (Paxlovid®) and molnupiravir (Lagevrio®) available for the treatment of COVID-19.
People at higher risk of severe illness are eligible for antiviral treatments. We encourage you to have an early discussion with your GP or nurse practitioner about:
- whether an oral antiviral suits your health needs
- developing a COVID-19 plan if you test positive to COVID-19
To find out if you are eligible for COVID-19 oral antivirals see Eligibility for oral COVID-19 antivirals.
COVID-19 oral antivirals, taken as capsules or tablets, are used to assist in preventing COVID-19 infections from becoming severe, and are typically prescribed to individuals who are at higher risk for severe disease if they become infected with COVID-19.
If you test positive and haven’t already made a plan with your GP or approved Nurse Practitioner, you should contact them as soon as possible.
If you don't have a regular GP, or can't get an appointment quickly, you can:
- call HealthDirect's free helpline on 1800 022 222
- use the health Service Finder to search for one near you.
If you are eligible for oral antiviral treatments, you will be able to pick up the medications at your local pharmacy with a prescription from an authorised prescriber, for example a general practitioner, medical practitioner or nurse practitioner.
Pharmacists are unable to dispense COVID-19 oral treatments without a prescription from an authorised prescriber.
Your GP can electronically send your prescription to the pharmacy or send you an electronic script. A friend or family member can collect the medications, or you can have them delivered to your home.
If you have a Medicare card, and are eligible, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidises the cost of oral antiviral COVID-19 medication.
From 1 January 2024 the maximum that a pharmacy can charge per oral medication is:
- $31.60 for general patients
- $7.70 for concession cardholders.
State and territory hospitals can provide the oral antivirals if you are advised to have treatment, but you are not eligible under the PBS.
Who should not have oral antiviral treatments
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not have any oral antiviral COVID-19 treatments. Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations will ensure protection for you and your baby.
If you have severe kidney or liver disease, you should not have the oral antiviral treatment – Paxlovid. Talk to your GP about other treatments.
COVID-19 treatments and birth control
Oral antiviral treatments may affect how prescribed birth control (the pill) works. If you are sexually active, you should use an alternative form of contraception while taking oral antiviral COVID-19 treatments.
We recommend women use effective forms of contraception:
- during treatment and for 4 days after with Lagevrio
- during treatment and for 7 days after with Paxlovid
Men should also consider using contraception during and for 3 months after taking Lagevrio.
Read the Consumer Medicine Information for the treatment you are prescribed and talk to your GP or health care provider about contraceptives and what is best for your situation.