HNZ: Advance Prescriptions for Oral COVID-19 Antiviral Medicines

HNZ: Advance Prescriptions for Oral COVID-19 Antiviral Medicines

Tēnā koutou katoa,

Please find attached draft guidance information on “Advance Prescriptions for Oral COVID-19 Antiviral Medicines”. Note we have used the terminology of “advance prescription” as the sector has multiple interpretations of “back pocket” prescriptions.

The document provides initial guidance to support safe and timely access to oral therapeutics for COVID-19 to reduce the risk of hospitalisation and poor outcomes.

Specifically, it clarifies a process whereby an authorised prescriber can issue a prescription in advance to a higher risk person who will meet the eligibility criteria set by Pharmac, if they get COVID-19 in the future. Whilst the antiviral medicines cannot be dispensed unless the person develops COVID-19, providing the advance prescription means that if the person develops COVID-19, they will have fewer steps to complete to fill the prescription and access the medicine.  In addition, advanced scripts can provide assurance to someone at high risk that they will be able to access these medications when needed.

Although issuing advance prescriptions will not be clinically appropriate for some people, the option of issuing advance prescriptions is one way that timely access to COVID-19 antivirals can be improved for eligible groups.

This is part of a suite of changes aimed at improving equity and timeliness of access  to COVID-19 antivirals, including widening the Pharmac access criteria (implemented 18 July 2022), and re-classifying nirmatrelvir with ritonavir (Paxlovid™) and molnupiravir (Lagevrio®) from “prescription only” to “restricted”, or “pharmacist-only” medicines. Further information and guidance to support this reclassification will be provided separately in the near future, and we will work to update the current published information and guidance for health practitioners to align with these changes. 

Apologies that this document is arriving on a Friday.  We usually avoid Fridays for distribution of this type of guidance, however we believe it is important to provide this as soon as it is available. 

We welcome your comments. Please send any feedback to:

Ngā mihi nui,

Vince Barry

Director Outbreak Response | Kaitohu9


Dr Joe Bourne     FRNZCGP / MSc (Public Health)

Covid Care in the Community  - Outbreak Response

133 Molesworth Street, Wellington | PO Box 5013, Wellington 6140