New initiative recognises public health role of Community Pharmacy

In Northern Ireland, around 123,000 people visit a pharmacy every day, making community pharmacies the most visited among all the health services available, the Causeway Coast Community reports.

With this in mind, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and the Public Health Agency (PHA) have introduced a new initiative called Health+Pharmacy.

Pharmacies with the Health+Pharmacy accreditation will work with their local communities to offer advice and services on improving health and wellbeing.

This can take place within and outside the pharmacy, for example in local schools or with community groups, to offer advice on issues such as obesity and better nutrition or pointing those in need to the organisations or local health services best placed to help them.

Thousands back threatened NHS Guildhall Walk centre

A petition signed by more than 5,000 people to save an out-of-hours GP surgery in Portsmouth has been handed in to NHS chiefs, the BBC reports.

The walk-in centre and GP surgery in Guildhall Walk could be relocated to St Mary's Treatment Centre and a new city location respectively.

Lalys Pharmacy, which organised the petition, said that would add pressure to A&E at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group said it would be simpler for patients.

Man accused of pharmacy raid in Rotherham

An 18-year-old man has been charged with burglary following a Wath pharmacy break-in, the South Yorkshire Times reports.

The suspect is accused of breaking into McGills in High Street and stealing cash and medication, which South Yorkshire Police later found nearby.

Fundraisings herald rise of Chinese pharma

A spate of fundraisings by Chinese biotech companies has highlighted a scramble for leadership of the country’s nascent life sciences sector and raised questions over how quickly China can rival the US and Europe as a source of blockbuster medicines, the Financial Times reports.

Several promising Chinese drug developers have raised money in recent weeks or are preparing to do so in defiance of stock market volatility as investors show increasing interest in the commercial potential of China’s expanding medical base.

China has not produced a new drug for the global market since artemisinin for malaria in the 1970s – a breakthrough for which chemist Tu Youyou was awarded a Nobel Prize last year.

Even that was not adopted widely until its commercialisation by Novartis of Switzerland in the 1990s.

Meningitis: Private stocks of vaccine running out amid unprecedented demand

Private stocks of the meningitis B vaccine are running out across the country amid unprecedented demand from parents anxious to protect their children from the potentially deadly disease, the Independent reports.

As the family of Faye Burdett published photographs of the dying two-year-old girl covered in a deep red rash and former England rugby star Matt Dawson spoke of his son’s narrow escape this week, more than half a million people have signed a petition calling for the Government to immunise all children.

Currently only babies aged between two and five months are offered the vaccine by the NHS.

It is available privately – at a total cost of up to £480 – but clinics have started to run out.

Drug company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which makes the vaccine, said in a statement that “unexpected global demand” in 2015 meant they would be “experiencing supply constraints” for the first six months of this year.

Sugar tax could prevent obesity in almost 4 million people, charities say

A sugar tax on sweetened drinks would save 3.7 million people from becoming obese over the next 10 years, reducing their chances of illness and saving the NHS millions of pounds, The Guardian reports.

A report, from Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum, an alliance that works on the prevention of heart disease, stroke and other conditions, says that by 2025 the tax could reduce health and social care spending by £10m a year.

The report from two leading medical charities adds to the pressure on the government to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks as part of its delayed childhood obesity strategy, which is expected to be published this month or next.

There has been widespread support for a tax from public health bodies and campaigners including Jamie Oliver, who has introduced a levy on sugary drinks in his own restaurants, the proceeds of which go to health and educational causes.