IMPORTANT: GPs and other prescribers may now prescribe antiviral medicines for the prophylaxis and treatment of flu at NHS expense – prescriptions MUST be endorsed SLS – pharmacy staff cannot make the SLS endorsement themselves.

IMPORTANT: GPs and other prescribers may now prescribe antiviral medicines for the prophylaxis and treatment of flu at NHS expense – prescriptions MUST be endorsed SLS – pharmacy staff cannot make the SLS endorsement themselves.

December 20, 2017

The Department of Health (DH) has via its Central Alerting System published a letter advising that due to increasing flu levels in the community, GPs and other prescribers working in primary care in England may now prescribe antiviral medicines for the prophylaxis and treatment of flu at NHS expense.

Prescribers may prescribe for patients in ‘clinical at-risk’ groups as well as those who are at risk of severe illness and/or compilations from flu if not treated, in accordance with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s guidance and the Selected List Scheme (SLS) in Part XVIIIB of the England and Wales Drug Tariff.

Community pharmacy contractors who receive FP10 NHS prescriptions – written generically or by brand –  for oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza), the antivirals included in the SLS list, are therefore reminded that prescriptions for these products must be endorsed ‘SLS’.  If the ‘SLS’ endorsement is missing, the prescription should not be dispensed and will not be passed for payment by NHS Prescription Services. Pharmacy staff cannot make the ‘SLS’ endorsement themselves.

The letter advises pharmacy teams to order stock only as needed and PSNC would urge contractors not to over order stocks of antiviral medicines. Over ordering could result in shortages in the supply chain. It is, however, important that oseltamivir for adults and children (aged 1 year or over) and zanamivir for adults are taken within 48 hours of onset of symptoms. Children 5 years and over should start taking zanamivir within 36 hours of onset of symptoms, to obtain maximum benefit.

DH also highlights the need for all frontline healthcare professionals to get vaccinated against flu and observe strict infection control measures. Pharmacy teams are reminded to continue to encourage as many eligible patients as possible to get vaccinated against flu before the pharmacy Flu Vaccination Service ends in March 2018.

Department of Health letter: Influenza season 2017/18: Use of Antiviral Medicines




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