No increase to pharmacy fees

The GPhC’s governing council has agreed the organisation’s budget for 2016/17 and decided that fee levels for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises will remain at current levels for the financial year 2016/17.

Commenting on the council’s decision, Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said: “We are committed to using registrants’ fees efficiently and effectively.

“We are therefore planning to reduce our operating costs for 2016/17 so we can maintain registrants’ fees at the current level despite continuing growth in the volume of cases we are having to deal with.

“It is our intention to achieve greater efficiencies on top of what we’ve already achieved over the past financial year, while continuing to achieve our ambitious aims set out in our strategic and corporate plans.”

Letters sent to over 100,000 people urging a free medical check-up

Free health checks were the order of the day with both an Oxford gym and health leaders urging people to have a ‘mid-life MOT’, the Witney Gazette reports.

While health leaders are encouraging people to take advantage of a free NHS health check up, Feelfit Gym, in Cowley, is also offering free health and fitness tests.

Staff at the gym, in Templars Square, will check people’s fitness and health, then give advice on how to become healthier and fitter. The NHS health check was launched in 2013 to encourage people aged between 40 and 74 to go to their GP for a series of routine tests against preventable, but potentially lethal, illnesses.

Even Greeks can get more medicines than Britons, Pfizer boss claims

The British boss of the world’s biggest drug company, Pfizer, has claimed that even cash-strapped Greece has more access to new medicines than the UK, The Guardian reports.

Erik Nordkamp warned that the system for approving new drugs in Britain needed radical reform as it could stop a new wave of specialist and personalised medicines becoming available for patients.

“The Nice assessment needs radical reform,” Nordkamp said, referring to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which decides on which drugs are cost effective for the NHS to buy.

“It hasn’t gone with the time, we use the same methodology that we have used for the last 16 years.”

GSK chief stands by diverse model

GlaxoSmithKline has all but ruled out a sale of its consumer healthcare business in the next three years, disappointing investors who have been pushing for a break-up of the UK drugmaker, the Financial Times reports.

In a bullish defence of his strategy, Sir Andrew Witty, chief executive, said GSK was on the road to recovery after a 21% fall in earnings last year and argued the group’s diversified structure was a source of strength.

GSK has faced calls from Neil Woodford, the high-profile UK fund manager and a big shareholder in the company, for a break-up of its medicines-to-mouthwash business model.

Department of Health to cut 650 jobs to reduce costs

The Department of Health is to cut about 650 jobs to reduce running costs, the BBC reports.

Non-senior staff numbers will fall from 1,800 to 1,200-1,300 by April 2017 and staff at three London offices will move to a single site in Westminster.

Most Whitehall budgets were cut in last November's spending review and the DoH is trying to make efficiency savings of 30% in the next five years.

The chancellor announced a cut in the budget of the Department of Health although NHS spending was protected.

Smirking Shkreli refuses lawmakers' questions, calls them 'imbeciles'

Former drug executive Martin Shkreli smirked and brushed off questions about drug prices then tweeted that lawmakers were imbeciles on Thursday, when he appeared at a U.S. congressional hearing against his will, Reuters reports.

Shkreli, 32, sparked outrage last year among patients, medical societies and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton after his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of the drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent to $750 a pill.

The lifesaving medicine, used to treat a parasitic infection, once sold for $1 a pill and has been on the market for more than 60 years.