DHSC permits use of antiviral medicines against influenza

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has via its Central Alerting System (CAS) published a letter on 14 December 2023 advising that due to increasing flu levels in the community, Prescribers working in primary care may now prescribe, and community pharmacists may now supply antiviral medicines (oseltamivir and zanamivir) for the prophylaxis and treatment of influenza at NHS expense. This is in accordance with NICE guidance, and Schedule 2 to the National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts (Prescription of drugs etc) Regulations 2004), commonly known as the Grey List or Selected List Scheme (SLS).

Prescribers may prescribe for patients in clinical at-risk groups as well as those who are at risk of severe illness and/or complications from flu if not treated, in accordance with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence 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 by the prescriber. 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.

Click here to view the CAS alert