The Department of Health has written to healthcare professionals via the Central Alerting System (PDF) to advise that antiviral medicines may now be prescribed at NHS expense due to rising levels in reporting of influenza-like illness.
Antiviral medicines can be prescribed for the prophylaxis and treatment of influenza, in accordance with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance and Schedule 2 to the National Health Service, commonly known as the Grey List or Selected List Scheme (SLS). Prescribing these medicines should be considered if patients are at risk of severe illness and/or complications from influenza if not treated, whether or not they are in a 'clinical at risk group'. The NICE guidance on the use of antiviral medicines covers treatment and prophylaxis.
Clinicians are reminded to endorse the prescription with 'SLS' to ensure that it can be dispensed in community pharmacies without undue delay. The letter also contains prescribing advice for children.
Action: Clinicians should be aware of this letter and familiarise themselves with the current NICE guidance.