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NEWS IN BRIEF: Coeliac UK; Lost Tablets; Drug Contracts; PAC Report; Probiotic Drinks


11 May 2016

Cambridgeshire health chief’s proposed cuts to gluten-free prescriptions criticised by Coeliac UK

Proposed cuts to gluten-free prescriptions in Cambridgeshire will leave more vulnerable patients with coeliac disease without support, Cambridge News reports.

Coeliac UK is strongly opposing the changes proposed by the Cambridge and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as it will “affect their ability to stick to the gluten-free diet” which is the only treatment for the autoimmune disease.

The CCG is currently consulting on a number of proposals around community pharmacy minor ailment schemes, prescribing of gluten-free foods and prescribing baby milk which runs until May 24.

But the charity says the potential serious long-term health complications of not maintaining a gluten-free diet – including osteoporosis, unexplained infertility and, in some rare cases, small bowel cancer – could “cost the NHS a lot more in the long run”.

Warning issued over potentially dangerous tablets lost in St Helens

Police are warning people to be cautious after potentially harmful medication was lost in St Helens on Sunday (May 8), the St Helens Star reports.

The medication, which was lost in the North Road area, comprises of 26 ‘Zopiclone’ pills.

A spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: “Taking Zopiclone if it has not been prescribed to you can cause drowsiness or result in a comatose state.

“Overdosing on Zopiclone would result in hospitalisation.”

U.S. probes contracts between drugmakers, pharmacy benefit managers

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is investigating contracts between drugmakers and companies that manage prescription benefits, according to regulatory filings, Reuters reports.

Federal prosecutors have approached at least three companies, including Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), Merck & Co (MRK.N) and Endo International Plc (ENDP.O), demanding information about their contracts with pharmacy benefit managers.

Pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, which administer drug benefits for employers and health plans and also run large mail-order pharmacies, have been challenging the rising cost of new medications.

When drugs are knocked off their formularies, patients may have to pay full price for them. PBMs often keep or dump a product depending on whether they can obtain favorable pricing.

NHS short of front-line staff after bad planning, say MPs

Bad planning and cost-cutting have left the NHS in England short of vital front-line staff, the BBC reports.

The Public Accounts Committee said the shortfall in doctors, nurses and midwives could even get worse if ministers did not get a “better grip”.

The group also warned there had been “no coherent attempt” to work out the staffing needed for a seven-day NHS.

But the government defended its record, pointing to the extra money being invested in the NHS this Parliament.

Probiotic drinks: There is no evidence products benefit healthy adults, research claims

There is no evidence that probiotic products, such as health drinks and yogurts, have health benefits for healthy adults, the Independent reports.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen conducted a review of seven studies of the products to evaluate whether they have health benefits.

The systematic review concluded that there is no evidence that the products alter the composition of faecal bacteria in adults who are not suffering from an existing medical condition related to bacteria.

The review’s authors conclude: “Overall, this systematic review demonstrates that there is no convincing evidence for consistent effects of probiotics on fecal microbiotica composition in healthy adults.”


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