What if you haven’t got a flu friend?

There are always, within the population, individuals who have no one to collect medicines for them when they are ill. The group predominantly affected are the elderly but, especially in a situation in which a significant proportion of the population is affected by a flu pandemic, there will be others. In normal circumstances we have a tried and trusted system of asking local pharmacies to deliver medications, including emergency medications, to people’s homes.

So as I pour through the numerous, and in many respects very helpful, protocols and guidance packages regarding the treatment phase of the H1N1 pandemic, my question is whether a similar mechanism is in place for the distribution of antivirals. If there is, I can’t find information about it anywhere. As chemists are not, at least in my area, dispensing antivirals (this takes place instead from designated distribution centres) I cannot ask them to deliver these when necessary, even when they are already delivering other required drugs such as antibiotics.

We need a system in place now, before things get even busier and before there are even less well people out there to act as all our flu buddies. I would suggest that chemists are in an ideal position to undertake this important task. To do so they will need to be given a stock of antivirals and a system of renumeration that  recognises the increased workload involved. That way flu patients whose buddy also has flu can still get the help they need. And the system needs to be publicised, especially to the elderly. So that older people, especially those already struggling on their own with flu won’t decide there’s no point asking for help because they’ve got no one to collect the antivirals for them.

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