Flu antivirals approved for NHS prescribing as cases increase

GPs can now prescribe antiviral medicines for flu prophylaxis and treatment at NHS expense, following an increase in infections in the community.

The impact of flu on healthcare services is currently at moderate intensity levels, according to PHE data. | CDC/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Antiviral medicines may be prescribed for patients in clinical at-risk groups as well as those who are at risk of severe illness and/or complications from flu if not treated.

Information on at-risk groups can be found in chapter 19 of the Green Book. NICE provides guidance on the use of antiviral drugs for the prevention and treatment of flu.

Prescriptions for flu antivirals issued in primary care should be endorsed with 'SLS'.

It is important that adults and children start taking oseltamivir within 48 hours of onset of symptoms. For zanamivir, treatment should begin within 48 hours of onset of symptoms for adults and within 36 hours of onset of symptoms for children who are 5 years of age or over.

Children over 12 months and adults who are not able to swallow capsules can be prescribed oral oseltamivir suspension.

For children under 12 months, efficacy of oseltamivir has been demonstrated when treatment is initiated within 2 days of first onset of symptoms.

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