DHS Issues Tamiflu Guidelines
The Department of Health Services on Tuesday issued guidelines discouraging doctors from prescribing Tamiflu to healthy patients who want to use it as a precaution in the event of an avian flu pandemic, the Orange County Register reports (Orange County Register, 11/30). Tamiflu is considered the "first line of defense" during an avian flu pandemic but is also used to treat severe cases of seasonal influenza, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30).
State Health Officer Mark Horton said DHS "strongly discourages" doctors from prescribing "Tamiflu when there is no immediate medical necessity" (Orange County Register, 11/30). Horton said it is "important to make sure that the drug is available now for those who really need it."
The DHS guidelines, which are similar to President Bush's pandemic preparedness plan, state that Tamiflu should first be prescribed to patients in high-risk groups, including people older than 65, young children and those with chronic illnesses.
In related news, Howard Backer, chief of the DHS immunization branch, said California has received its full order of 755,420 flu vaccine doses. Backer said most of the doses have been sent to local public health departments (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.