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Swine flu: Tamiflu and Relenza information for nurse prescribers

Learn about the medicines used to treat or manage swine flu and pandemic flu - preparations, benefits and side-effects are all covered. This information is designed to be passed on to patients.

The information is provided through a collaboration between NHS Choices, the medicines information provider Datapharm, and other health organisations. It’s based on the best available clinical evidence, and is continually updated.

Oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu)

Tamiflu (Tam-ee-flew) is a medicine used in preventing and treating influenza. Tamiflu contains oseltamivir phosphate and is supplied by Roche Products.

The information in this Medicine Guide for Tamiflu varies according to the condition being treated and the preparation used.

How Tamilflu works:

Information specific to:

Tamiflu 12mg/ml oral suspension when used in treating influenza

Tamiflu 75mg capsules when used in treating influenza

Tamiflu is an antiviral medicine used to prevent or treat infections caused by the influenza virus.

Other information about Tamiflu:

  • If taking Tamiflu to treat an influenza infection it is important that treatment with Tamiflu starts as soon as possible within two days of flu symptoms appearing

How to take Tamiflu:

Information specific to:

Tamiflu 12mg/ml oral suspension when used in preventing influenza

Tamiflu 12mg/ml oral suspension when used in treating influenza

In the case of Tamiflu:

  • This medicine comes with a medicine measure which should be used to measure the correct dose
  • If there are problems swallowing, Tamiflu capsules may be taken in several ways

Whether Tamiflu is suitable:

Information specific to:

Tamiflu 12mg/ml oral suspension when used in preventing influenza

Tamiflu 12mg/ml oral suspension when used in treating influenza

Tamiflu is not suitable for everyone and some people should never use it. Other people should only use it with special care.

Tamiflu should be prescribed with special care or not at all if the patient:

  • is aged over 65 years
  • is on dialysis
  • is allergic or sensitive to or have had a reaction to any of the ingredients in the medicine
  • is seriously ill or are in an unstable medical condition
  • has a weakened immune system
  • has breathing problems
  • has fructose intolerance
  • has heart problems
  • has kidney problems

Furthermore the prescriber may only prescribe this medicine with special care or may not prescribe it at all for a child under the age of one year.

Over time it is possible that Tamiflu can become unsuitable for some people, or they may become unsuitable for it.

Information specific to:

Whether Tamiflu is suitable:

Tamiflu 75mg capsules when used in preventing influenza

Tamiflu 75mg capsules when used in treating influenza

Tamiflu is not suitable for everyone and some people should never use it. Other people should only use it with special care.

Tamiflu should be prescribed with special care or not at all if the patient:

  • is aged over 65 years
  • is on dialysis
  • is allergic or sensitive to or have had a reaction to any of the ingredients in the medicine
  • is seriously ill or are in an unstable medical condition
  • has a weakened immune system
  • has breathing problems
  • has heart problems
  • has kidney problems

Ingredients of Tamiflu

Medicines contain active ingredients. They may also contain other, additional ingredients that help ensure the stability, safety and effectiveness of the medicine. They are also added to improve the medicine’s taste and appearance and to make it easier to take. Some may be used to prolong the life of the medicine.

Information specific to:

Tamiflu 12mg/ml oral suspension when used in preventing influenza

Tamiflu 12mg/ml oral suspension when used in treating influenza

Tamiflu contains:

  • tutti frutti flavour
  • arabic gum (E414)
  • maltodextrins (maize)
  • natural identical flavouring substances (mainly consisting of banana, pineapple and peach flavour)
  • propylene glycol
  • oseltamivir phosphate
  • saccharin sodium (E954)
  • sodium benzoate (E211)
  • sodium dihydrogen citrate (E331 (a))
  • sorbitol (E420)
  • titanium dioxide (E171)
  • xanthan gum (E415)

Information specific to:

Tamiflu 75mg capsules when used in preventing influenza

Tamiflu 75mg capsules when used in treating influenza

Tamiflu contains:

  • black iron oxide (E172)
  • croscarmellose sodium
  • FD and C blue 2 (indigo carmine, E132)
  • gelatin
  • oseltamivir phosphate
  • povidone
  • pregelatinised maize starch
  • red iron oxide (E172)
  • shellac
  • sodium stearyl fumarate
  • talc
  • titanium dioxide (E171)
  • yellow iron oxide (E172)

 

Zanamivir (Relenza)

Relenza (Rel-en-za) is a medicine which is used in preventing influenza and treating influenza. Relenza contains zanamivir. It is supplied by GlaxoSmithKline UK.

The information in this Medicine Guide for Relenza varies according to the condition being treated and the particular preparation used.

How Relenza works:

Information specific to:

Relenza 5mg inhalation powder blisters with Diskhaler when used in treating influenza

Relenza is an antiviral medicine that is used to prevent or treat infections caused by the influenza virus.

Other information about Relenza:

  • An adult using Relenza to treat an influenza infection should start using it as soon as possible within 48 hours of flu symptoms appearing
  • If this medicine is being used to treat an influenza infection in a child, it should be started as soon as possible within 36 hours of flu symptoms appearing
  • This medicine may cause bronchospasm. If the patient has asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease make sure that they have a fast acting bronchodilator with them when they use Relenza.

When to take Relenza:

In the case of Relenza:

  • If the patient is using any other inhalers such as those used for asthma, they should use them before using Relenza

How to take Relenza

Information specific to:

Relenza 5mg inhalation powder blisters with Diskhaler when used in preventing influenza

Relenza 5mg inhalation powder blisters with Diskhaler when used in treating influenza

Some medicines have specific instructions about how to take them. This is because they work better when taken correctly. These instructions can include getting the right dose and special instructions for preparing the medicine.

In the case of Relenza:

  • Use this medicine with the diskhaler device

Whether Relenza is suitable

Information specific to:

Relenza 5mg inhalation powder blisters with Diskhaler when used in preventing influenza

Relenza is not suitable for everyone and some people should never use it. Other people should only use it with special care.

Relenza should be prescribed with special care or not at all if the patient:

  • is a resident of a nursing home
  • is aged over 65 years
  • is allergic or sensitive to or has had a reaction to any of the ingredients in the medicine
  • is seriously ill or are in an unstable medical condition
  • has a weakened immune system
  • has asthma
  • has breathing problems
  • has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • has galactose intolerance
  • has glucose-galactose malabsorption problems
  • has Lapp lactase deficiency

Furthermore the prescriber may only prescribe this medicine with special care or may not prescribe it at all for a child under the age of five years.

As part of the process of assessing suitability to take this medicine a prescriber may also arrange tests:

  • to check that this medicine is not having any undesired effects

Over time it is possible that Relenza can become unsuitable for some people, or they may become unsuitable for it.

Side-effects

Very rare: Less than 0.01% of people who take Relenza

  • angioedema of the face or throat
  • breathing problems or bronchospasm - if you develop any of these problems you should stop using Relenza and seek immediate medical advice
  • allergic reactions
  • skin rash or rashes
  • throat tightness
  • urticaria

The frequency of these side-effects is unknown

  • psychiatric problems such as reduced conscious level, behavioural changes, hallucinations or delirium - you must seek medical advice if any of these symptoms occur
  • convulsions

Information specific to:

Relenza 5mg inhalation powder blisters with Diskhaler when used in treating influenza

Relenza is not suitable for everyone and some people should never use it. Other people should only use it with special care. It is important that the person prescribing this medicine knows your full medical history.

Relenza should be prescribed with special care or not at all if the patient:

  • is aged over 65 years
  • is allergic or sensitive to or have had a reaction to any of the ingredients in the medicine
  • is seriously ill or are in an unstable medical condition
  • has a weakened immune system
  • has asthma
  • has breathing problems
  • has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • has galactose intolerance
  • has glucose-galactose malabsorption problems
  • has Lapp lactase deficiency

Furthermore the prescriber may only prescribe this medicine with special care or may not prescribe it at all for a child under the age of five years.

As part of the process of assessing suitability to take this medicine a prescriber may also arrange tests:

  • to check that this medicine is not having any undesired effects

Over time it is possible that Relenza can become unsuitable for some people, or they may become unsuitable for it.

Ingredients of Relenza

Information specific to:

Relenza 5mg inhalation powder blisters with Diskhaler when used in preventing influenza

Relenza 5mg inhalation powder blisters with Diskhaler when used in treating influenza

Medicines contain active ingredients. They may also contain other, additional ingredients that help ensure the stability, safety and effectiveness of the medicine. They are also added to improve the medicine’s taste and appearance and to make it easier to take. Some may be used to prolong the life of the medicine.

Relenza contains:

  • lactose monohydrate which contains milk proteins
  • zanamivir

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