Pharmacists are being asked to not overstock antiviral medicines despite figures showing flu cases to be at their highest for three years.
Excessive ordering of medicines such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) could lead to shortages in the supply chain, said chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies.
The Department of Health (DH) said they are in “constant communication” with manufacturers to make sure there is an adequate quantity of antiviral medication.
Public Health England’s (PHE) latest weekly report has shown 74 new acute respiratory outbreaks were reported in the past seven days.
Around 60 cases alone were found in care homes.
There were 291 admissions to hospitals in the past week with 107 to intensive care units or high dependency units due to flu.
PHE data shows cases of flu continue to increase worldwide and predicts “the influenza season appears to be starting” in the European region.
Almost half of all frontline healthcare workers have been vaccinated against flu, data provided by 97% of NHS trusts show.
Primary care prescribers are reminded to mark all prescriptions for oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) for community pharmacists ‘SLS’ so it is clear they are part of the selective list scheme and can be issued.
The drugs should be used for people who are considered “at clinical risk”, a list which includes pregnant women, over 65s and those with long-term conditions.