GPs told to halt prescribing antivirals on NHS

GPs should stop prescribing antivirals for flu following a fall in flu viruses circulating in the community, officials have said.

GPs should stop prescribing antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu, pictured) and zanamivir (Relenza) on the NHS (photo: Science Photo Library)
GPs should stop prescribing antiviral drugs oseltamivir (Tamiflu, pictured) and zanamivir (Relenza) on the NHS (photo: Science Photo Library)

Data from Public Health England (PHE) showed circulation of the flu virus has fallen below the point at which NICE guidance on the use of antivirals is triggered.

In a letter to the NHS, England CMO Professor Dame Sally Davies and Dr Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer, wrote: 'GPs should no longer prescribe, at NHS expense, antiviral medicines for the prophylaxis and treatment of influenza, 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.

'This stands until we write again when the use of antivirals is next triggered.'

The latest weekly update from PHE shows GP consultation rates for flu-like illness are low across the UK. Flu activity this winter has been the lowest for several years.

Uptake of the flu vaccine has reached 73% in people aged 65 and over; 52% in at-risk patients under 65; 40% in pregnant women; 43% in two-year-olds; and 40% in three-year-olds.

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