Roche is claiming a victory after the UK Government placed its influenza medication, Tamiflu (oseltamivir), on Schedule 2 of the NHS (General Medical Services Contracts) Regulations 2004, thereby giving the green light to GPs to prescribe the product to “otherwise healthy” individuals, and to prevent the development of symptoms in those who come into contact with an infected individual this winter.

Current National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidance recommends the use of Tamiflu on the NHS for patients deemed to be “at risk” – namely the elderly, and those with diabetes or chronic cardiovascular, renal or respiratory illness [[27/02/03c]]. The new designation will allow doctors to prescribe the product via a private prescription during an NHS consultation, to otherwise healthy adults and children (aged at least one year) for the treatment of influenza, and to healthy individuals (aged 13 years or over), following contact with an infected patient, to prevent the development of flu.

The firm estimates the likely cost of private prescription for a course of treatment with Tamiflu to be in the region of £20 to £25.