AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s a question Dr. Ogechika Alozie with the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 task force said he’s getting a lot from his patients: I have tested positive for COVID-19, do I need to take COVID-19 treatment pills? Here’s what you need to know.

Ask a doctor: Do I need to get Paxlovid?

National health leaders have said the pills can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by roughly 90%. Those treatments are only recommended for people who are at higher risk of severe symptoms, such as people with underlying health conditions or who are older than 50, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. A doctor’s prescription is needed.

Alozie said this is a question he’s getting from patients frequently. Here’s his response:

I think that’s a nuanced conversation and I’ll explain why: The data around Paxlovid is really clear on those that are unvaccinated and have not had SARS-CoV-2, it showed a massive reduction in hospitalization. We’re extrapolating everything else. Actually, some of the Pfizer data that was released outside of their clinical data that went to the CDC and FDA didn’t seem to show an effect. It’s really disappointing in the United States that we’re not doing any randomized controlled trials, the United Kingdom is, and so we’ll have an answer.

I think a lot of times, as a physician, sometimes we treat our angst and our internal sort of compass as much as we treat the patient. And we’re giving it to people that are at risk. My concern is not just that we may be giving people a false bill of goods, but also we’re already beginning to see some data that shows that there may be some resistance brewing and as an infectious disease physician, not surprising. I mean, we understand that if you overload the community with an antibiotic or an antiviral, you can create resistance. I’m worried about that.”

How expensive are COVID-19 pills?

In late April, the Biden administration announced it was nearly doubling the number of locations that would have access to free treatment courses. The pills are free in most cases.

Where are treatments available in Austin?

In March of this year, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response rolled out a website that identifies locations with COVID-19 treatment medications. The locations on the site have all ordered Paxlovid or Lagevrio in the last two months and has made them available to the public over the past two weeks.

You can find the COVID-19 treatment location identifier website here.