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Improving the Availability of COVID-19 Therapeutics in Vulnerable Communities

Dr. Tara Vijayan speaks on improving COVID-19 treatment from “an equity standpoint, an ethical standpoint, and an evidence standpoint”.

Beyond vaccination, what are some methods for treating COVID-19 in both inpatient and outpatient settings? In the 2 years since the beginning of the pandemic, the strategies for protecting people from this deadly virus have certainly evolved, yet questions remain regarding COVID-19 therapeutics and their availability in certain communities and during times of scarcity.

For this episode of DocTalk, Tara Vijayan, MD, MPH, who is a member of the division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine, offered insights into the mechanisms of several COVID-19 treatments, as well as the primary outcomes of these treatments in clinical trials and how they influence prioritization.

This conversation was based off her session, “Navigating Novel COVID-19 Therapuetics in Times of Scarcity and Beyond,” which was presented at Pri-Med West 2022 in Anaheim, California.

Though she is confident with certain aspects of COVID-19 care, she is also focused on improving upon treatment from “an equity standpoint, an ethical standpoint, and an evidence standpoint”.

“Drug scarcity is going to be an ongoing issue, and really prioritizing individuals who are at highest risk is really important, as well as both highest risk for progression as well as highest risk for exposure by virtue of being in certain communities that have lower access to certain resources,” Vijayan said.

Vijayan also spoke of the role pharmacists have in aiding primary care physicians in prescribing some of these treatments.

“I do think that it's a bilateral partnership; the clinician brings to the table specific knowledge and specific understanding, certainly understanding of the patient's clinical condition, and that pharmacist brings to the table their understanding of the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, and specifically the drug interactions,” she said. “So, there should be a dialogue between the 2, and there's no question that the pharmacists are really integral in this process.”

To hear more from Dr. Vijayan on the importance of allocating COVID-19 treatments to communities in need, as well as the risks and benefits of Emergency Use Authorization treatment, listen to the full episode of DocTalk.