Pharmac considers access criteria for COVID-19 antiviral treatments 

Media release Medicines COVID-19

Te Pātaka Whaioranga – Pharmac is consulting on changes to the access criteria for all COVID-19 antiviral treatments to include more people who are at risk of becoming severely ill from the infection.  

“We now know that these antiviral treatments can be effective at reducing the severity of illness for those most at risk from COVID-19 infection,” says Pharmac’s Chief Medical Officer Dr David Hughes. “We want to ensure that people who can benefit the most from the treatments can access them, and that healthcare practitioners are able to identify who we are trying to target with the criteria.”

The consultation will affect nirmatrelvir with ritonavir (branded as Paxlovid), remdesivir (branded as Veklury) and molnupiravir (branded as Lagevrio), and seeks feedback on changes to:

“Our team has continued to hear from the community and healthcare practitioners about who should have access to antivirals. The COVID-19 Treatments Advisory Group has considered this feedback in addition to new evidence, including data from Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People.”

As part of this consultation Pharmac will consider its own list of high-risk conditions for healthcare practitioners to use when interpreting the criteria which is available to view in the consultation document. 

“We are also seeking feedback on how discretion could be incorporated into this process, to allow access to COVID-19 antiviral treatments for people who meet the intent of the access criteria but are not explicitly identified in the wording, so that they still could be treated.” concludes Dr Hughes.

As the global and local response to COVID-19 evolves, further changes would be made based on available evidence and further feedback from the health sector and community. 

Consultation on the proposed changes to the access criteria closes at 5:00pm on 21 August 2023. Feedback can be emailed to