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NAPC News 18 April 2012
Blood Tests Will Flag Up Cancers
A blood test which identifies early stage cancer could be available in hospitals within three years.
The test identifies a protein generated by cancer and so far experts have successfully diagnosed early stages of the disease in the lung, colon and pancreas.
The blood test can be done with pathology equipment already available in most major hospitals so additional equipment would not be necessary.
If Drugs Do Not Work
The press featured an article looking at the use of genetic testing to remedy drug intolerance.
A paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 estimated htat adverse drug reactions ranked between the fourth and sixth biggest killers in the United States.
Clinical trials deliberately ignore a patient’s background and genetics so they can avoid bias. However, this in turn means that, so long as a drug works well for most people, doctors will prescribe it to everyone with that condition. ‘Such a study doesn’t tell you how a particular patient responds to a drug. Some people have a personal biochemistry which means it doesn’t work at all,’ according to Theo Dingermann, a professor of pharmaceutical biology at Goethe University in Frankfurt.
Flu Vaccination Publicity Under Fire
Former chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, has said in a new paper that the Department of Health’s failure to launch a publicity campaign urging people to have a flu vaccination may have contributed to a rise in deaths in the year after the flu pandemic.
Published in the journal, Eurosurveillance, his article states that in the flu season, during the winter of 2009/10 there were approximately 10 per cent more hospital admissions, 30 per cent more deaths and 30 per cent more critical care admission in the two waves of summer and autumn 2009.
Trusts Instructed Not To Send Patients Home Late At Night
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHA, has demanded that all hospitals review how they discharge patients, to end the ‘obviously unacceptable’ practice of sending vulnerable patients home in the middle of the night.
Almost 240,000 patients a year were discharged between 11pm and 6 am, according to the 100 hospital trusts in England which responded to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
Putting Friendly Faces Back On The Wards
David Cameron has announced a £1 million scheme to introduce new nursing standards in the summer to ‘restore a sense of pride in the profession’.
Mr Cameron said earlier this year that poor standards had been allowed to develop because politi9cians had failed to speak frankly about the work of nurses. He previously called for nurses to carry out hourly ward rounds to check that patients were being properly fed and cared for.
Fast Courier Service For Morning After Pill
Women will soon be able to get the morning after pill delivered by courier to their home or office rather than having to see their GP to obtain the drug.
For £20, women will be able to order the drugs by filling out an online form through DrEd.com, the medical practice.
Dr Amit Khutti, founder of DrEd said: ‘Emergency contraception works better the sooner you take it, so having it delivered within two hours will make it more likely to be effective.’
Cannabis Cancer Trial Payment For GW
GW Pharmaceuticals is to receive an E11.9 million payment after its cannabis-based medicine, Sativex, reached the target number of patients needed for a cancer pain trial programme.
The payment comes after GW successfully brought Sativex onto the market as a prescription medicine for MS sufferers.
Young Get New Colitis Treatment
Children and teenagers with severe ulcerative colitis can now be given a medication previously limited to adults.
Remicade has been licensed for the treatment for severely active ulcerative colitis. Remicade blocks the tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), which plays a central role in inflammatory diseases.
Parkinson’s Drug Boost
Oxford Biomedica, which was founded by two university professors, hopes to found a treatment for Parkinson’s.
Shares in the company rose by 41 per cent on signs its ProSavin drug was moving closer to the market after it successfully completed clinical trials.
Perfect Prostate Cancer Therapy
Research by University College London has shown that intensive ultrasound treatment for prostate cancer rids nine in ten sufferers of the disease without debilitating side effects.
The treatment is expected to be approved as safe and effective next week by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which will say that further trials should go ahead before it is approved for use on the NHS.
The new technique, High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (Hifu), focuses powerful sound waves on an area about about a 10th of an inch across. It effectively boils cancerous cells to death, killing tumours, and does far less damage to surrounding tissue, minimising side effects.
New Doubts Over Omega-3 Benefits To MS Patients
Scientists say MS patients may not benefits from taking omega-3 fish oil supplements. The researchers said they found no evidence that the capsules had any effect on the progression of the disease.
The researchers studied 92 patients, half of whom were given omega-3 supplements and half a ‘dummy’ placebo. After six months patients received beta interferon injections, a standard MS treatment, which was continued for another 18 months. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of patients’ brains were used to measure the progression of the disease. The scans suggested that omega-3 had no impact on the disease.
The scientists, led by Oivind Torkildsen, from Haukeland University Hospital, in Bergen, Norway, said the scans suggested that omega-3 had no impact on the disease. The researchers added that there was no evidence that omega-3 were harmful to MS patients or that they interfered with beta interferon treatment.
Blast Of Electricity Can Stop Asthma Attack
A new battery powered device held against the side of the neck for 90 seconds may be a new wy to tackle asthma attacks.
The device is designed to treat attacks by using low-level electrical stimulation of the nerve that runs up the side of the neck, called the vagus nerve. When symptoms appear, it is held next to the skin, against the carotid artery, which is next to this nerve. This acts to relax the muscles in the walls of the airway, widening the tubes that connect to the lungs, allowing more air in and out of the body.
A new study in the Journal of Academic Emergency Medicine showed that stimulation of the nerve was highly effective in acute asthma attacks.
Store Has Boost For Mums To Be
Asda is to offer free folic acid to women who are pregnant or trying to conceive. From next Monday, the store’s 218 pharmacies will offer expert advice and a pregnancy guide produced by the baby charity, Tommy’s.
Research shows that a third of women do not take folic acid, which helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida.
Faisal Tuddy, of Asda Pharmacy, said: ‘Women can visit any Asda pharmacy at any time for free information or guidance on pregnancy.’