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Merck, Pfizer COVID-19 pills now available in Texas Walmart locations

Both pills are available in select pharmacies once customers get a prescription from a healthcare provider.

TEXAS, USA — COVID-19 pills that were recently approved by U.S. health advisors are now available in Texas.

Representatives of Walmart and Sam's Club announced on Thursday that some of their pharmacies have started dispensing COVID antiviral medications from Merck (Molnupiravir) and Pfizer (Paxlovid).

The medications have to be prescribed by a healthcare provider. Providers and customers can go online to find out which locations have the pills in stock.

Patients can ask their doctor to send a digital prescription to the Walmart or Sam's Club pharmacy that they want. When they go to pick it up, they have to go through the pharmacy's curbside or drive-thru delivery options and have a pharmacist drop it off.

What are the two COVID-19 pills available?

The FDA has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to two antiviral drugs to treat COVID cases: Molnupiravir (from Merck) and Paxlovid (from Pfizer).

Molnupiravir (Merck)

Molnupiravir can be used to treat mild-to-moderate COVID cases for people who are at least 18 years old and have a high risk of severe illness.

The FDA's EUA letter for the drug reads that it shouldn't be used for more than five days in a row. 

It's only for people that currently have COVID. Molnupiravir has not been authorized for COVID patients that need to be hospitalized.

MORE INFO: FDA panel narrowly backs COVID-19 pill from Merck

Paxlovid (Pfizer)

Paxlovid was issued EUA to treat mild-to-moderate COVID cases for people who are at least 12 years old and have a high risk of severe illness. 

According to the FDA, patients that get the pill should take it as soon as they test positive for COVID-19 and start showing symptoms.

MORE INFO: Pfizer pill becomes 1st US-authorized home COVID treatment

What are doctors saying?

Doctors want you to know the pills are not a substitute for the vaccine.

The moment you start showing symptoms, doctors said you should immediately get a COVID test because time is of the essence.

“Both drugs were studied in the first five days of symptoms, so they need to be given in the first five days," UT Health Houston and Memorial Hermann Infectious Diseases Expert Dr. Luis Ostrosky said.

Ostrosky said both drugs are a series of several pills taken over five days. Paxlovid is the combination of two drugs that fight the COVID virus together.

“This drug showed a reduction in hospitalization and mortality of 89%," Ostrosky said.

The issue is that one of those drugs may not work well with your other medications.

“It’s a drug that will interact with many common medications that people may take," Ostrosky said.

So if you’re on one of those medicines, your doctor may then prescribe you the other COVID drug, Molnupiravir. This drug works by stopping the virus.

“It’s a really interesting drug. It introduces errors in the transcription of the virus," Ostrosky said.

The issue with Molnupiravir is it isn’t approved for children or pregnant women, and it has less chance, only 30%, of keeping you out of the hospital.

“It doesn’t sound like much but really, when you don’t have any other treatments, and you have somebody who has very high risk, it may be beneficial," Ostrosky said.

This is the reason that you’ll need a prescription. A doctor will look at your symptoms, risk factors and then help you decide if the drugs are right for you, vaccinated or not.

“Ideally, everybody with symptoms, particularly people with high risk of severe disease should take this medication in the first five days," Ostrosky said.

Editor's Note: The following video was uploaded Nov 12

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