The New Mexico Department of Health announced last week that it has authorized oral therapeutics for high-risk patients who need, but do not have access to monoclonal antibody infusion. Supply of the oral medications will be very limited initially, and demand is anticipated to exceed the available supply.

As a result, access to oral therapeutics will initially be available only in counties without monoclonal antibody infusion sites, as well as areas with limited access to monoclonal antibody infusions. People in these communities generally have more difficulty accessing medical care, so prioritizing patients in these areas will help increase access to COVID-19 treatment and reduce hospitalizations.

As supply becomes more readily available, criteria will expand to include all counties and all eligible patients.

“These oral therapeutics are more evidence of our capacity to respond skillfully and creatively to a changing COVID landscape,” DOH Deputy Secretary Laura Parajon said. “By taking advantage of the full range of COVID treatments – including vaccinations and therapeutics – we protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

It was just last week that the FDA granted emergency use authorizations for Molnupiravir and Paxlovid; antiviral medications that reduce the ability of a virus to replicate, decreasing the total amount of virus in the body. Antiviral medications reduce the symptoms of a viral infection and shorten the length of illness.

DOH says both oral treatments are expected to remain effective against the new Omicron variant because they do not target the spike protein where most of the strain’s worrisome mutations reside. However, the medications must be started within five days of symptom onset. Parajon added that people should get tested and talk to their provider about treatment options at the first sign of COVID-19 disease.

Risk factors associated with more severe outcomes from COVID-19 illness include but are not limited to:

  • Age 65 years and older
  • Obesity / BMI 35+
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Hypertension
  • Immunosuppressed