Prescription COVID-19 Medication
Prescription medication is available for Minnesotans who test positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of getting very sick because of older age or underlying health conditions.
These medications, also called treatments, can help prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. If you are at high risk and test positive, it is important to get medication right away to prevent serious illness.
This page will tell you more about available medical options and how to get treatment.
The Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Public Hotline can help you understand treatment options and direct to resources. Call 1-833-431-2053, Monday - Friday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What are they? Two prescription pills are available to treat Minnesotans at the highest risk for severe illness – Paxlovid (ages 12 and older) and molnupiravir (ages 18 and older). These antiviral medications target specific parts of the virus and can help reduce its multiplication and spread in your body.
These pills have been authorized for people with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for severe disease. A list of factors that could put you at high risk is available at CDC: People with Certain Medical Conditions.
The treatment is most effective when taken within five days of symptoms starting, so it's important to contact a health care provider if you have symptoms and test positive for COVID-19.
How do I get them? COVID-19 pills are available by prescription only. A health care provider can determine whether COVID-19 pills are right for you by carefully reviewing your symptoms, test results, medical history, and current medications. COVID-19 pills are not right for everyone, so it is important to provide full details of your medical history, particularly your current medications, to your provider.
Through your doctor: If you have a health care provider and you test positive for COVID-19, you can contact them to determine if COVID-19 pills are right for you, and to receive a prescription. Many providers can provide testing or can look at the results of a test performed elsewhere, such as a home test. If you are eligible for treatment, your provider can send a prescription to a pharmacy. Many pharmacies around Minnesota have COVID-19 pills in stock and can fill your prescription.
Test-to-Treat: Another way to access COVID-19 pills, especially if you do not have a health care provider, is by visiting pharmacies or health care providers participating in the nationwide Test-to-Treat program. There, you can take a COVID-19 test and, if positive, be assessed by a provider on-site. If you are eligible for treatment, you can receive and fill a prescription for pills at the same time.
One-stop Test-to-Treat sites are available at many locations across Minnesota, including pharmacies and federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs). The federal government has a Test-to-Treat locator to help find participating sites. Some of these sites require appointments. Learn more at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
People can continue to be tested and treated by their own health care providers who can appropriately prescribe these antiviral pills at locations where the medicines are distributed.
A Test-to-Treat call center is also available at 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is also available to specifically help people with disabilities access services. To get help, call 1-888-677-1199, Monday-Friday from 8 am to 7 pm, or email DIAL@usaginganddisability.org.
Telehealth: The State of Minnesota, in partnership with Cue Health, has a new telehealth test-to-treat program where people in Minnesota who test positive with any home test can connect with a physician virtually to see if they should get COVID-19 medications. If they qualify, the provider can issue that prescription to the person’s local pharmacy, or in some areas of the state, the prescription medication can be delivered to the person’s home. This service is available at no cost. Learn more at Telehealth.
Antiviral IV therapy:
What is it? Another type of IV therapy called remdesivir is available to some people with COVID-19. Remdesivir is FDA approved for treating people who are at high risk for developing severe COVID-19.
Remdesivir is also used to treat patients who are hospitalized with more severe illness due to COVID-19. If you are hospitalized due to COVID-19, your health care providers will decide if remdesivir or other treatments are needed.
How do I get it? Remdesivir is only available after talking to your health care provider – you cannot receive remdesivir on your own.
Remdesivir should be started as soon as possible, with outpatient treatment beginning within seven days of symptoms developing. It's important for people at high risk to contact their health care provider if they have symptoms and test positive for COVID-19. The treatment is given as a series of three IV infusions, given once a day for three consecutive days.
Cost and Insurance:
Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about costs associated with receiving a particular treatment.
The federal government has purchased supplies of COVID-19 pills, so patients do not need to pay for the cost of the medicine, although they may have to pay other charges. The federal government does not make remdesivir available for free, so there may be a cost for those treatments.
For all treatments, clinics or pharmacies may charge fees to patients or insurance companies, including service charges, dispensing fees, or copays. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about costs associated with receiving a particular treatment.
Health insurance may cover most of these costs. Patients who do not have insurance may be able to find low- or no-cost treatment in their communities at a U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) health center or a community health center. Visit HRSA Health Center COVID-19 Therapeutics Program Participants to find a center near you.
For information about Minnesota community health centers or federally qualified health centers that provide services, visit the Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers.
Who should get COVID-19 medication:
Not everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 needs to get treated. Antiviral treatments for COVID-19 are available for patients with mild to moderate symptoms, who are not in the hospital, who have had symptoms for seven days or less, and who are at high risk for severe illness.
People can be high risk for many reasons. Some of the most common are being older than 50 years, obesity, having chronic medical conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease, being on treatment that suppresses your immune system, or pregnancy. To find a full list of factors that may put someone at high risk, visit CDC: People with Certain Medical Conditions.
If you are high risk and develop symptoms that could be COVID-19, get tested right away. If you test positive, contact your health care provider right away, even if your symptoms are mild right now. Don't delay, treatment must be started early to work.
The Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Public Hotline can also help you understand treatment options and direct to resources. Call 1-833-431-2053, Monday - Friday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information, see COVID-19 Medication Options.
Managing mild COVID-19 illness:
If you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and can recover at home. Your health care provider might recommend the following to relieve symptoms and support your body’s natural defenses:
- Taking medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to reduce fever;
- Drinking water or receiving intravenous fluids to stay hydrated; and
- Getting plenty of rest to help the body fight the virus.
Learn more about what to do if you are positive at If You Are Sick or Test Positive.
When to seek emergency medical care:
If your illness is getting worse or you notice any of these emergency warning signs, call your health care provider right away. Emergency warning signs can include:
- Trouble breathing.
- Ongoing pain or pressure in the chest.
- New confusion or not being able to wake up.
- Bluish lips or face.
Call your doctor or clinic before going in. Tell them about your symptoms and they will give you instructions to help protect you and other patients.