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Two-tier NHS fear as ministers plan to greylist anti-flu drug

Ministers want to 'greylist'

the anti-flu drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu) so GPs can write pri-vate prescriptions for patients on their list who do not

qualify for treatment on the NHS.

GP leaders reacted with anger to the 'insulting' proposal, put out to consultation by health minister Lord Warner.

The RCGP plans to hold urgent talks on the drift towards a two-tier NHS.

Under National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidance, NHS use of oseltamivir is restricted to the treatment and post-exposure prophylaxis of flu in any patient over 65 and younger at-risk patients.

Lord Warner said putting the drug on the schedule 11 greylist would enable other patients to get it from their own GP.

RCGP prescribing spokes-man Dr Jim Kennedy said: 'We have concerns about the movement of cost on to the patient personally rather than the NHS as a whole.'

The Government's plan to make statins available over the counter to patients at 'moderate' risk of coronary heart disease had already stoked RCGP fears of a divide between those who can afford to pay for medication and those who cannot.

GPC prescribing chair Dr Peter Fellows said: 'The whole idea is a bit insulting to GPs ­ why can't they rely on the common-sense of GPs to deal with these things? I thought grey and blacklists had outlived their day.'

He said the plans would do nothing to cut GP workload and predicted few patients would opt for a private prescription.

A five-day course of osel-tamivir, 75mg taken twice

daily, costs the NHS £18.18.

The Department of Health said the consultation had been launched in response to a request from Tamiflu manufacturer Roche and there were no plans to put other drugs on schedule 11.

Drugs GPs can prescribe privately

Schedule 11 lists drugs that GPs may prescribe on the NHS only in specified circumstances, and/or for specified patient groups. GPs may write a private prescription, without charge, for patients on their list who are ineligible for NHS treatment.

Schedule 11 currently covers seven erectile dysfunction drugs including sildenafil (Viagra); clobazam; cyanocobalamin tablets; locabiotal

aerosol; Niferex elixir 30ml paediatric dropper bottle; and Nizoral cream.

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