HC Deb 09 June 2000 vol 351 cc400-1W
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps the Government plans to take to ensure that vulnerable at-risk groups, including elderly people in nursing homes, have rapid access to antiviral treatment and protection in the early stages of influenza outbreaks in their communities; [121962]

(2) what plans he has to recommend the wider use of antiviral drugs to help control influenza outbreaks; [121961]

(3) what plans he has to communicate to health professionals and the public information about influenza protection and treatment measures other than vaccination, with particular reference to established antivirals; [121966]

(4) what steps he is taking to ensure that general practitioners are aware of the extent to which (a) flu antivirals used in other countries and (b) new antivirals being considered by NICE are available, effective and safe; [121960]

(5) if he will recommend adoption of anti-flu measures as employed by the West Cumberland NHS Trust. [122297]

Yvette Cooper

Recommendations on the use of amantadine (an antiviral drug used in the treatment and prevention of influenza A) are given in the United Kingdom Health Departments' publication 'Immunisation against Infectious Disease'. Recommendations on the use of Relenza (one of a new type of antiviral drugs developed for the treatment of influenza) are given in the guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued last year. NICE will be reviewing its advice on the use of antiviral drugs later this year, in time to give further advice for next winter's influenza season. The Department will consider the need for further guidance on the treatment of influenza in the light of this advice.

The use of antiviral treatment in an individual outbreak is a matter for the local Consultant in Communicable Disease Control and offering such treatment to healthcare staff is a decision for individual NHS trusts.

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