HNZ: Important in-confidence message: COVID-19 therapeutics

HNZ: Important in-confidence message: COVID-19 therapeutics

Kia Ora Koutou

We are emailing to provide the primary care sector with information regarding COVID-19 therapeutics that will be announced by Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall later today.

The Minister will announce that the eligibility criteria for oral therapeutics are going to be updated by PHARMAC. This will increase those that will met the eligibility criteria whilst continuing to recognise that Māori and Pacific peoples are at greater risk of poorer outcomes from COVID-19. PHARMAC will be providing more information about the change over the coming days and will update their on-line resources.

In addition, the Minister will announce that our two oral antiviral medicines - nirmatrelvir with ritonavir (Paxlovid™) and molnupiravir (Lagevrio®) - are set to be reclassified from being prescription only medicine, to a “restricted” medicine.

This change will allow pharmacists to provide these oral antiviral medicines to people who have COVID-19 and who meet the eligibility criteria set by Pharmac. Pharmacists can then supply these medicines without a prescription from an authorised prescriber.

This change aims to:

  • Reduce the number of steps to access COVID-19 therapeutics, as the medicine must be started within five days of getting COVID-19.
  • Increase access for people, because of longer opening hours, increased locations, and for those not currently enrolled with general practice.

It is acknowledged that collaboration between pharmacists, general practice teams and other healthcare providers will be required to ensure this change is implemented safely.  We would like to thank those from the sector who have provided valuable feedback on this change, helping us to mitigate any risks. 

Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health and Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand will continue to work with the general practice and pharmacy sector to provide relevant training, guidance and support. More information about the change will be shared as soon as we are able. 

Ngā mihi


Dr Joe Bourne     FRNZCGP / MSc (Public Health)

Covid Care in the Community – COVID-19 Outbreak Response

National Public Health Service