Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

Contraception – Worth Talking About

The Department of Health has announced a new campaign will help young people to make more informed choices about contraception, look after their sexual health and avoid unwanted pregnancies.

The press release notes a 23% reduction in teenage births but also admits there is more to be done.

The first phase of the campaign aims to specifically prompt conversations about the range of contraceptive options open to teenagers and young adults. It will:

  • give people the facts about sexual health
  • encourage people to talk about sex and contraception – research shows that open and honest conversations about sex and relationships can stop young people having sex too early
  • raise awareness of the range of contraception that can fit with different people’s lifestyles
  • encourage people to take a chlamydia test

Adverts are planned and there is a dedicated section on the NHS web site.

Action: Clinicians should be aware of this campaign. Demand for contraceptive services may increase if the campaign is successful.

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November NICE Guidance

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence has published new guidance for the month of November.

There is one guidance document that has an impact in primary care. A public health guideline (QRG) recommends strategies to promote mental wellbeing in work. The guidance makes recommendations for employers of all sizes, employee representative groups and employees themselves to decrease work related stress and improve work efficiency.

Action: Clinicians should be aware of this guideline and consider sign posting patients to work based services, such as occupational health services where these exist.

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Swine flu updates

The Department of Health has announced some changes to the national swine flu vaccination programme and have also written to advise healthcare professionals of the updated dosing schedules for children aged under 6 months.

The vaccination programme has been extended to include children aged 6 months to 5 years. This age group have been included as they are more likely to be admitted to hospital if the contract swine flu and are also more likely to need require critical care.

A letter (PDF) has also been sent advising of a change to the dosage for children aged under 6 months after an update to the market authorisation for oseltamivir (Tamiflu®). To reflect the new dosing recommendations updated antiviral vouchers are being produced and are expected by 14th December 2009.

Action: Clinicians who are involved in the swine flu vaccination programme or who authorise treatment with antiviral medication should be aware of these changes.

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Swine flu ADR reports for Sweden

The Medical Products Agency in Sweden has published a summary of safety information collected during the national swine ‘flu vaccination programme. Sweden is using Pandemrix® in their vaccination programme.

The information is helpfully presented in English and summarises the adverse drug reaction reports that have been collated during the vaccination programme. According to this report over 2 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in Sweden.

The experience in Sweden is similar to the picture in the UK. Most of the reported events are mild and expected. They include injection site symptoms like soreness and reddening of the skin or systemic reactions like fever, body aches and malaise.

Action: Clinicians may find this additional source of safety monitoring information useful.

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MeReC Extra 42

The National Prescribing Centre has published MeReC Extra 42 (PDF) which contains information about the risks and benefits of treating adults and children with oseltamivir for the treatment of influenza.

This MeReC Extra directs readers to the online patient decision aids made available earlier this year. Additional information is provided from recent trial work that aimed to assess the benefits of treatment in adults and in children.

Action: Clinicians who issue treatment for patients with symptoms of influenza will find this information useful and informative.

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