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NEWS IN BRIEF: Cornflour; Sanofi; Pfizer; Self-harm; Junior Doctors


10 Feb 2016

Little boy needs cornflour to survive – but pharmacists won’t dispense it

Pharmacists have been accused of playing with the life of a little boy who needs cornflour to survive, The Northern Echo reports.

The parents of six-year-old George Morrison say he is being denied life-saving cornflour by pharmacists who have replaced it with an untested drug.

The little Darlington boy is one of only a handful of children in the UK to suffer from the rare and life-threatening glycogen storage disease (GSD).

Without daily doses of cornflour, George could slip into a coma and die.

Sanofi pins hopes on heart drug to pump up sales growth

An important new heart drug that Sanofi is counting on to revive growth is still on course for blockbuster sales, the company’s chief executive has said, despite a slow start in the increasingly price-conscious US market, the Financial Times reports.

Oliver Brandicourt said yesterday he remained confident that Praluent – part of a much-trumpeted new class of cholesterol-lowering products called PCSK9 inhibitors – would be a “major, major medicine”.

But he admitted it had taken time to negotiate access with the insurers and prescription benefit managers who act as gatekeepers to the US market, in the face of tough competition from Amgen’s rival PCSK9, called Repatha.

Pfizer moves to ease concerns over R&D

Pfizer’s most senior scientist has moved to quell concerns that the company’s $160bn takeover of Allergan will lead to a clash of cultures and erode its commitment to discovering new drugs, the Financial Times reports.

Many of Pfizer’s top products, such as breast cancer drug Ibrance, were developed by in-house scientists, but Allergan has tended to eschew early-stage science in favour of buying medicines discovered by other companies.

A number of Pfizer scientists have told the Financial Times that they fear the company will move closer to the Allergan approach and step back from discovering new drugs, putting their jobs at risk.

Rise in number of children admitted to A&E for self-harm and mental illnesses

The number of children diagnosed with mental illnesses has more than doubled in five years and cases of intentional self-harm have also surged, the Independent reports.

Recently published figures show the figure of patients under 18 who went to A&E and were diagnosed with having a mental disorder has grown each year from just under 7,000 in 2010/11 to almost 15,000 in 2014/15.

The number of patients under 18 who have been identified in A&E as having intentionally self-harmed has also from 13,504 in 2010/11 to 17,019 in 2014/15.

Cases where A&E patients under the age of 18 were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and were identified as having intentionally self-harmed rose from 1,098 in 2010/11 to 2,313 in 2014/15.

Public backlash against junior doctors’ strike grows, but most back action

New figures suggest a growing public backlash against planned doctors’ strikes, with a doubling in the numbers “strongly opposed” to industrial action, The Telegraph reports.

Almost 3,000 operations have been cancelled ahead of today’s 24 hour strike by junior doctors, with thousands more routine appointments postponed.

The main sticking point remains Saturday pay and the point at which a premium rate of pay kicks in for junior doctors.

An Ipsos Mori poll shows overall support for junior doctors has remained constant, with two in three people supporting the action – the same as when polls were carried out just before the first set of strikes, last month.


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