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Archive for July, 2009

Swine flu to affect 40% of Americans

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

As the UK and NHS struggles to cope with the crisis planning for the swine flu pandemic, PRimage has heard that across the Atlantic, America’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is currently deciding on an approach for inoculating Americans against the H1N1 virus. That comes after the agency projected that the virus could affect up to 40% of the U.S. population.

The CDC’s prediction includes both individuals who contract the swine flu and an estimated number of people who will forgo work to take care of sick friends or family members. The CDC also predicts that anywhere between 90,000 and “several hundred thousand” Americans could die of swine flu or swine flu-related illnesses over the course of the next two years.american-flag1

Pseudoephedrine will not be reclassified – PRimage comment

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

It’s been announced today that the UK medicines watchdog – The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – has ruled that Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine-containing medicines will not be reclassified as prescription drugs.  The MHRA has decided to retain the drugs’ pharmacy (P) classification after two years of monitoring the impact of tougher sales restrictions.


PRimage client, The Company Chemists’ Association has issued the following press comment in response to the announcement: ccalogo


Rob Darracott, CEO of the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), said: “The MHRA decision shows real confidence in pharmacy’s ability to control sales of pseudoephedrine, which can be used in the home manufacture of class A drug crystal meth (methylamphetamine). Pharmacy has stepped up to ensure tighter sales controls, such as restricting purchases to one pack per customer. It shows what pharmacy can do when we work as a team.” pharmacist-3

Peers critical of swine flu planning – PRimage view

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

As a specialist healthcare communications consultant, Judy Viitanen believes that the House of Lords science and technology committee were justified in their criticism of the government for delays in setting up the national pandemic swine flu service (NPFS) and failing to test the entire UK response to a pandemic before it began.  swine-flu4There is still clearly a lack of clarity as to how NHS intensive care facilities will cope with demand during this ongoing crisis.  And the Conservatives have already voiced concerns about variations across the country in the number of antivrial collection points available.

peers1In an incisive report into the state of the nation’s preparedness for the pandemic, the committee said: “[We have] … significant concerns about the delay in the operation of what the Department of Health describes as the enhanced national pandemic flu service and invites the government to provide a more detailed explanation of the reason. We also seek reassurance that the enhanced service will be able to meet anticipated demand and that it will be fully operational in the autumn, in good time to meet the challenges of the anticipated second wave of influenza.”

Thought for the day …

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

“Life is rather like a tin of sardines – we’re all of us looking for the key” sardines

(Alan Bennett)

Swine flu update

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

- The World Health Organisation said Tuesday that it will consult experts on the way anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu are used to tackle the swine flu pandemic, and possible drug resistance.tamiflu


- Soft toys are flu risk: Childminders and nurseries should take soft toys away from children to stop the spread of swine flu, according to official guidance.


- The BBC could be asked to clear its schedules for educational programmes if schools are closed due to swine flu, it has emerged.

- There is ‘huge regional variation’ in the number of antivrial collection points available around the country, according to figures released by the Conservatives. Eight trusts have no collection points in place as yet, 47 trusts have just one collection point, whereas ten have more than 30.  There is also little correlation between the prevalence of swine flu in an area and the number of antiviral collection points. Shadow health minister Mike O’Brien said: ‘These figures are a genuine concern and raise further questions about the Government’s handling of swine flu.  ‘The number of collection points available in many areas still seems surprisingly low. If there are areas with too few collection points, then the Government must take urgent action to open more so that people suffering from swine flu can get the antivirals they need.’

- Antiviral treatment should be reserved for the young and under 65s during the swine flu pandemic, according to new research out today. A senior GP responsible for helping draft the profession’s swine flu plans has attacked the Government for encouraging the public to take Tamiflu even in cases where they may not need drugs.

- Campaigners have called on the government to suspend EU rules that limit doctors to working 48 hours a week in a bid to cope with the mounting pressure on the NHS caused by swine flu.

- A leading doctor has warned swine flu could become resistant to Tamiflu because it is being over-prescribed.

Barack Obama’s blueprint for health-care reform: PRimage comment

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


As a specialist healthcare communications consultancy PRimage has been following with great interest Barack Obama’s bold plans to reform America’s healthcare system.  This week the President used a prime-time news conference marking six months in office to make the case for his blueprint for health-care reform, which Judy Viitanen watched on CNN. However, opinion polls show Americans increasingly disapprove of the president’s plans and some Democratic congressmen are questioning the cost. Three committees in the House of Representatives have presented a plan to provide health cover for the uninsured with the help of hefty tax increases on the rich.  In its latest estimate, the Congressional Budget Office said the health-care bill would add $239 billion to the federal deficit over ten years.   dollar1Barack Obama has promised that health-care reform will be deficit-neutral, but this is a difficult concept to consider – particularly in the current recession. A plan may be deficit-neutral over ten years, but add significantly to it thereafter by front-loading revenue and back loading costs. Many presidents have seen their ambitions frustrated by the realities of red ink – and Judy Viitanen believes this might be the case for Mr. Obama … watch this space

Tory success at Norwich North by-election: PRimage comment

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team were delighted that the Conservative’s had such a positive win at the Norwich North by-election, overturning the 5,459 Labour majority won by Ian Gibson at the 2005 general election. Tory candidate Chloe Smith took the seat with 13,591 votes – a majority of 7,348 – just over double Labour’s 6,243 votes – and the stunning victory represents a 16.49 per cent swing to the Conservatives.  She said her election represented a victory for “honest politics” and that people had not just voted against Labour Party, but had voted for the Conservatives.  At 27, Chloe will become the youngest MP at Westminster – PRimage wish her every success.3969854

PRimage believes that this rout for Labour will spark off lots of in-fighting within the party.  But it’s probably unlikely that it will spark renewed calls for Gordon Brown to stand down as leader …. It seems that many Labour MPs are resigned to Brown staying as prime minister until the next election. 


Swine flu inundates GP practices – PRimage comment

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

swine-fluJudy Viitanen has read news reports this morning that GPs are being forced to abandon routine work and cancel appointments in order to cope with the huge volume of swine flu calls and consultations.  PRimage understand that pregnant women, babies under one and people with underlying health conditions will continue to be treated by their family doctor rather than the government’s new swine flu helpline. Concerns that medically at-risk groups, such as mothers-to-be and cancer patients, need to be assessed by a health professional rather than a call centre worker have prompted ministers to agree that the new national pandemic flu service will not seek to cover vulnerable patients.Ministers have so far refused to allow local suspension of the QOF, and insist that the national pandemic flu service will relieve GPs of the extra swine flu work, despite not being manned by trained clinicians. 02052007_doctors_talking_with_patientsq1But the news reports claim many GPs already have to cancel appointments and delay reviews for patients with long term conditions.

It appears also that GP leaders are battling to prevent GPs from facing financial penalties if they achieve poor scores on the patient survey as a result of patients not being able to access their GP during the outbreak. The GPC is also calling for PCTs to allow non-urgent work to be abandoned, and for initiatives like world class commissioning to be shelved while the crisis continues.

Tories trusted on public services – PRimage agree!

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009


As long-standing Conservative supporters, Judy Viitanen (a former Tory District Councillor) and the PRimage team are not surprised that a Populus opinion poll suggests more voters trust the Conservatives to manage public spending cuts without harming key public services, with 38 per cent backing the party compared to 28 per cent supporting Labour.  a-symbol2We are also pleased to hear that David Cameron is to offer an olive branch to the Conservative party’s old guard after the turmoil of the expenses scandal by promoting several of them to senior jobs in his government if the Tories win the next election.

PRimage ‘Thought For The Day’ ….

Monday, July 20th, 2009

churchillWinston Churchill: ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give’.