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GPs told they can prescribe antivirals for flu

GPs and other primary care prescribers have been told they can now prescribe antiviral medicines, as surveillance data indicated an increase in influenza cases.

An alert from the Chief Medical Officer said ‘antiviral medicines may be prescribed for patients in “clinical at-risk groups” as well as any who are at risk of severe illness and/or complications from influenza if not treated’.

The alert said: ‘With surveillance data indicating an increase in influenza cases in the community. GPs and other prescribers working in primary care may now prescribe antiviral medicines for the prophylaxis and treatment of influenza at NHS expense.

‘This is in accordance with NICE guidance, and Schedule 2 to the National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) (Prescription of drugs etc) Regulations 2004), commonly known as the Grey List or Selected List Scheme (SLS).’

Hospital clinicians ‘may continue to prescribe antiviral medicines for patients whose illness is confirmed or strongly suspected, to be due to flu and who would suffer from medical complications if not treated’, the message added.

Information on at risk groups and patients eligible for treatment in primary care at NHS expense with either oseltamivir (Tamiflu), or zanamivir (Relenza), is available on the Department of Health website.