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Archive for August, 2007

Warning!Savlon poisoning scare

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Thousands of tubes and bottles of Savlon have been taken off shelves after animal rights activists claimed to have poisoned them. High street shops, including Boots and Superdrug, acted after a hardline group claimed to have tampered with more than 250 items containing the antiseptic. The Animal Rights Militia did not say how they had been damaged but it recently claimed to have injected bleach into products in France.

Tesco said it had temporarily withdrawn Savlon and would be working closely with police before it was put back on sale. The extremists said they had also targeted “other well-known stores” as part of a continuing campaign against the animal testing laboratory Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Pharmacists urged to check NHS Choices data

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

PRimage has learnt that pharmacy representatives have advised pharmacists to check that information about their pharmacies on the NHS Choices website is correct or risk losing out when release two of the Electronic Prescription Service begins later this year.

Which? warning over ‘poor’ eye tests

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Following on from the announcement earlier this week for prescribing powers for opticians, Judy Viitanen was interested to learn that according to the Consumers Association, some eye tests lead to inaccurate prescriptions which could cause health problems. Seven out of 36 prescriptions given to Which? researchers were wrong and could cause headaches and blurred vision. And 17 of 39 eye checks were either poor or very poor in quality, the consumer group found.

Pseudoephedrine: MHRA introduce tighter controls

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

The MHRA have just announced that pseudoephedrine and ephedrine contained in nasal decongestants in cold and flu remedies are to have tighter controls. This follows a public consultation initiated by the MHRA as there has been an increasing concern about the potential for pseudoephedrine and ephedrine to be extracted from over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and used in the illegal manufacture of methylamphetamine (crystal meth).

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team, along with many interested stakeholders from the pharmacy profession and OTC industry, have been awaiting this announcement from the MHRA. The MHRA news release is detailed below:

Nasal decongestants get new sales restrictions

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has announced today that pseudoephedrine and ephedrine contained in nasal decongestants in cold and flu remedies are to have tighter controls. This follows a public consultation initiated by the MHRA as there has been an increasing concern about the potential for pseudoephedrine and ephedrine to be extracted from over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and used in the illegal manufacture of methylamphetamine (crystal meth).

The MHRA received views from industry, other organisations and public bodies about the continuing availability of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. The consultation ended on the 29 June 2007. The Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) considered the responses to the consultation and proposals from interested parties.

The Commission has recommended that large packs of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine will be replaced by smaller packs of 720mg (the equivalent of 12 tablets or capsules of 60 mg or 24 tablets or capsules of 30mg) and there will be a limit to one pack per customer. The Commission also recommended to the pharmacy professions that the sale should be carried out by a pharmacist.

An Expert Group of CHM is to be set up to advise on the practical aspects of the measures proposed. The impact of the strengthened pharmacy controls will be regularly monitored and evaluated by this group. The group will also carry out a full review of all decongestants in this class, looking at the effectiveness and potential safety concerns of these medicines and their alternatives.

The legal status of products containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine should be reclassified from pharmacy only to prescription only (POM) in 24 months time (2009) or earlier if necessary, unless the risk of the misuse of these OTC medicines in the illicit manufacture of methylamphetamine is contained by the measures outlined.

Dr. June Raine, Director of Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines at the MHRA, said “The MHRA is introducing these measures to protect the public health following concern that was highlighted during the consultation process. All stakeholders will be working together to ensure the controls are effective. The Expert Group will be carrying out a continuous programme to monitor the situation.”

PRimage comment:

Watch this space for more analysis of comment and reaction from the pharmacy profession, manufacturers and the media …

Statement from pharmacy bodies:

As a specialist healthcare agency, with several pharmacy clients in its portfolio, PRimage was particularly heartened that the professional bodies representing pharmacy created a unified position in arguing against the reclassification of these medicines.

The profession appears to welcome today’s decision from the MHRA: its representative organisations – the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), RPSGB, NPA and AIMp – have issued a joint response, saying:

“Pharmacy bodies are united on this issue, and will continue to work closely together to ensure the measures proposed enhance existing pharmacy controls. This outcome allows for more choice, convenience and better access to medicines for patients, and utilises the skills and expertise of pharmacists as experts in medicines. We ask for understanding from the public that while the restrictions may seem inconvenient, they are preferable to the alternative of restricting these medicines to prescription only.”

“We are pleased that the CHM has given pharmacy the chance to demonstrate its ability to control pseudoephedrine / ephedrine sales and involve pharmacy in addressing this important public health issue. But our performance will be monitored and the option to reclassify to prescription-only status is still open.”

Smokers beware!

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

So, just over a month before the minimum age for buying tobacco in England and Wales increases from 16 to 18, bringing it in line with alcohol, graphic images highlighting the dangers of smoking will be printed on all tobacco products sold in the UK by the end of 2009.

As a specialist healthcare communications consultant, Judy Viitanen is somewhat sceptical that these proposed ‘gruesome graphics’ will be effective in encouraging smokers to quit ….. what’s your take on this? PRimage would love to hear your views.

Tory pledge on crime is welcome news!

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

PRimage was pleased that the Conservatives believe “long-term generational change” is needed to fight crime – not a “knee-jerk” response. According to Cameron, violent video games should be curbed, parents urged to be more responsible, and schools should be reformed.  Judy Viitanen and the team agree totally! Do you?

We were also heartened that the Tory plan to tackle crime would see the prison early release scheme cut, and licensing laws reformed.

Prescribing powers for optometrists

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team believe that this is good news. This extended role for eye health specialists means patients can be examined, diagnosed and receive a prescription during one visit to the opticians, without the need for a separate appointment with a GP.

What’s your view?

Reclassification of pseudoephedrine

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

MHRA decision on issue surrounding reclassification of pseudoephedrine is due today, August 28.

Watch this space …..

Is the ‘Brown Bounce’ fading?

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

As a new opinion poll puts Labour only five points ahead of the Tories, Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team are pondering whether the so-called “Brown bounce” is over. What do you think?

With the Party Conference season fast approaching we were heartened to see that David Cameron and the Tories are also leading on the crucial issues of health and law and order.

And we suspect that Gordon Brown is likely to face a few ‘problems’ and troubles amongst his rank and file backbenchers over the coming weeks, with unions set to demand he ditch his two per cent cap on public sector pay rises, while Eurosceptic Labour MPs are ready to demand a referendum on the new EU treaty.

Watch this space …….

Appalling £202m drugs wastage in hospitals!

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

As a specialist healthcare communications consultant, Judy Viitanen was disturbed to learn that last year, 824 tons of medication was dumped by the Health Service because the use-by date had expired – costing the taxpayer around £202million.

PRimage believe that at a time when many hospitals have been cutting jobs to save money and rationing lifesaving drugs because they are not “cost-effective”, this action is alarming and that the loss of one-fifth of a billion pounds from the NHS each year is a worry for us all and affects the poorest and those most in need most severely.

Judy and the PRimage team agree with the comments made by Tory MP, Grant Shapps, who discovered these figures when he was looking at primary care trusts to determine the amount of waste in the NHS. He said: “While Department of Health spending has undoubtedly risen over the last five years, these increases have invariably been accompanied by disproportionately large growth in waste and inefficiency.”

What’s your view?