Antivirals for flu can now be prescribed on the NHS, DoH announces

Antiviral medicines may be prescribed at NHS expense for the prophylaxis and treatment of influenza in accordance with NICE guidance and the Selected List Scheme, after a recent increase in influenza virus activity.

There is now a substantial likelihood that people presenting with influenza-like illness are infected with the influenza virus. | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
There is now a substantial likelihood that people presenting with influenza-like illness are infected with the influenza virus. | SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Amantadine, oseltamivir and zanamivir can be prescribed for influenza in patients who are considered to be at risk of severe illness and/or complications even if they are not in a 'clinical at-risk group'.

Antivirals can reduce the risk of death in patients hospitalised with influenza. A recent report from the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Wellcome Trust supports the routine use of antivirals when influenza circulates more widely or causes more severe symptoms.

Further information
DoH letter to healthcare professionals
NICE guidance: influenza prophylaxis
NICE guidance: influenza treatment
Selected List Scheme

All prescriptions for oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) should be endorsed with the reference 'SLS' or pharmacies will be unable to supply them at NHS expense.

The DoH also highlights the importance of healthcare professionals, including GPs, getting vaccinated themselves to minimise the risk of flu transmission.

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