Influenza season 2019/20 – antiviral prescribing

03 Dec 2019

Antiviral medicines can be prescribed on NHS prescriptions for the prophylaxis and treatment of influenza during the 2019/20 season

The Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) has issued a Central Medical Officer (CMO) alert, Influenza Season 2019/20: Use of Antiviral Medicines”, stating that antiviral medicines can now be prescribed by GPs and other primary care prescribers on NHS prescriptions. This recommendation has been made in response to surveillance data showing an increase in influenza cases and is in-line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance for the treatment and prophylaxis of influenza.

Healthcare professionals including pharmacists can refer to the “for further information regarding patient eligibility for receiving oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) or zanamivir (Relenza®) on the NHS. This includes patients in clinical at-risk groups or those at risk of complications or severe illness from untreated influenza.

Advice for pharmacists and pharmacy teams

  • Read the CMO alert for details on prescribing antiviral medicines for specific age groups and those unable to swallow capsules
  • Ensure antiviral prescriptions are dispensed promptly to avoid delaying treatment
  • Ensure FP10 prescriptions are endorsed with ‘SLS’ from the prescriber in order for it to be passed for payment – prescriptions for antivirals oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) or zanamivir (Relenza®) need to be in accordance with Schedule 2 (the Selected List Scheme (SLS)) to the National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) (Prescription of drugs etc) Regulations 2004)
  • Only order antiviral medicines as needed to fulfil prescriptions – do not over order
  • Ensure appropriate infection control measures are in place – refer to the NPA standard operating procedures (SOPs) for infection control and hand hygiene

For further information on this or any other query, please contact the NPA Pharmacy Services team on 01727 891 800 or email pharmacyservices@npa.co.uk.

Produced by the NPA Pharmacy Services team December 2019.