Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

Shingles vaccine information

The Department of Health has written to NHS colleagues to provide more information about the imminent introduction of the shingles vaccine to the national vaccination programme.

The vaccine will be available with effect from September 2013 for people aged 70 years (routine cohort) and 79 years (catch-up cohort). A new chapter on shingles has been included in Immunisation against infectious disease (Green Book) but this letter also contains information about shingles and the herpes zoster vaccine including administration, contraindications, ordering and storage.

Action: Clinicians who will be involved in the delivery of the shingles vaccination programme should be aware of this letter and may wish to familiarise themselves with details provided.

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SMC Update - July 2013

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has issued its monthly advice on newly licensed medicines.

Latanoprost preservative-free eye-drops (Monopost®) have been accepted for restricted use for the reduction of elevated intraocular pressure in patients with open angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension. The restriction limits use to those patients who have proven sensitivity to the preservative benzalkonium chloride.

Nomegestrol acetate/estradiol (Zoely®) has been rejected for use as an oral contraceptive. The manufacturer failed to make a submission.

Adalimumab (Humira®) has been accepted for restricted use in combination with methotrexate for the treatment of active polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis in children and adolescents aged 2 to 17 years. The restriction limits use to specialist rheumatology services.

Adalimumab (Humira®) has been accepted for restricted use in the treatment of severe active Crohn's disease in paediatric patients (6 to 17 years of age) who have had an inadequate response to conventional therapy. The restriction limits use to specialists in paediatric gastroenterology.

Everolimus (Afinitor®) has been rejected as a treatment of hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor type 2 (HER2)/neu negative advanced breast cancer in combination with exemestane in postmenopausal women. The manufacturer failed to make a sufficiently robust economic case.

Action: Clinicians should be aware of the recommendations of the SMC. Routine use of rejected and restricted medicines should be avoided.

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ASA censures the Society of Homeopaths

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has censured the Society of Homeopaths following a large number of complaints about claims relating to homeopathy that appeared on a number of websites including social media site like Twitter. This has also been reported in the British Medical Journal.

The remit of the ASA was extended in 2011 to cover online material. The ASA investigated the acceptability of the type of claims being made for homeopathy. They concluded that the adverts or information might discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought and that the information presented was misleading and could not be sufficiently substantiated.

The ASA have advised the Society of Homeopaths "not to discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought, including offering specific advice on or treatment for such conditions" and "not to make health claims for homeopathy unless they held sufficiently robust evidence of efficacy".

Action: Clinicians may wish to consider reporting misleading claims like these to the ASA for investigation.

Thanks to Kevin Ashworth for spotting this article

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