Flu antivirals now prescribable at NHS expense

Antivirals for the treatment and prophylaxis of influenza may now be prescribed at NHS expense following an announcement issued by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

Prescriptions for influenza antivirals should be endorsed with 'SLS' | SPL
Prescriptions for influenza antivirals should be endorsed with 'SLS' | SPL

According to the CMO announcement, issued on December 19, surveillance data is indicating an increase in influenza cases in the community.

Antivirals may be prescribed for patients in clinical at-risk groups as well as any patients who are at risk of severe illness and/or complications from influenza if not treated. All prescriptions for influenza antivirals issued in primary care should be endorsed with 'SLS'.

Hospital clinicians may continue to prescribe antivirals for patients whose illness is confirmed or strongly suspected due to flu and who would suffer from medical complications if not treated. Laboratory confirmation with subtype identification should be obtained as soon as possible.

Influenza antivirals available to prescribe in the UK include oseltamivir (Tamiflu oral capsules and suspension) and zanamivir (Relenza powder for inhalation). Information on at risk groups and patients eligible for treatment in primary care at NHS expense with either of these drugs can be found on the DH website.

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