Skip to main content


Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 14 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the average shelf-life is of the Tamiflu the Government have in stock; (289237)

(2) what procedures the NHS has in place to ensure the use of the oldest stock of Tamiflu first.

The existing pandemic stockpile of Tamiflu was purchased in instalments between the autumn of 2006 and 2007 (totalling some 15 million treatment courses) and in spring 2009 (eight million treatment courses). This makes determining the average life of the stockpile difficult. All of this stock has a shelf life of five years so is currently well within its expiry date. However, following a decision of the European medicines regulator (the European Medicines Agency, stock produced after June 2009 will have a shelf life of seven years. We are currently discussing with Roche and with the medicines regulator both the implications of this decision and the possible extension of the shelf life of stock we hold.

A small amount of Tamiflu that we are making use of but that was not procured for pandemic flu planning will expire later in 2009. We expect that most of this stock will now have been used.

Stock currently held by the national health service for treatment of swine flu at antiviral collection points (ACPs) is used in accordance with guidance provided on stock rotation.

All ACPs have pharmaceutical oversight provided by senior primary care trust pharmacists, who ensure there are safe systems and processes in place for the safe management and supply of antiviral medicines.

Stock held in stockpile warehouses is managed by professional inventory and stock managers, and in accordance with standard inventory management practice on a “first in, first out” basis.