Published: August 2009

Safety Information

Pharmacovigilance activities for anti viral medicines used to treat influenza during the pandemic – Electronic reporting tool is available

August 2009

The current influenza pandemic may result in altered patterns of use for some medicines. As the H1N1 pandemic virus has been shown to be sensitive to the neuraminidase inhibitors Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir) they are likely to be prescribed to more people than usual, and to different patient groups than would be expected compared to the normal seasonal influenza strain.

The safety profiles of antiviral medicines used to treat influenza is well established, they have been used safely in millions of people in many countries prior to the current influenza pandemic. However, there is less experience with their use in groups of patients such as pregnant women and young children.

In particular, children, pregnant women and the elderly are more likely to be prescribed antiviral medicine due to concerns about the potential severity of pandemic influenza in these groups. Other groups likely to receive antiviral medicines are those with any chronic illness predisposing to complications of influenza.

As a safety measure Medsafe is encouraging prescribers to report any suspected adverse reactions to the antiviral medicines used in preventing or treating pandemic influenza to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM).

To facilitate the ability of GPs to report adverse reactions, Medsafe, in conjunction with BPAC, have recently developed an electronic adverse reaction reporting tool, the ‘eReporting tool’. The eReporting tool is now available for use with specific GP patient management software systems. The data submitted by GPs using this tool is transmitted directly to CARM and facilitates the early detection of emerging safety issues.

GPs seeking information about the availability of the eReporting tool should contact BPAC on (03) 479 2816.

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