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COVID-19 impact on England's cancer services could lead to 35,000 excess deaths

New data emerging from DATA-CAN: The Health Data Research Hub for Cancer has shone a light on the potential toll that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could wreak on the delivery of cancer treatment in England, warning that up to 35,000 additional deaths could occur within a year.

The research, drawn from eight hospital trusts and originally published as a preprint in April, analysed different paths to normality from the pandemic to determine their impact on cancer mortality rates.

UK health leaders urge "rapid review" of COVID-19 preparedness as England relaxes lockdown

Image credit: Annie Mole

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an extensive rollback of existing lockdown measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19 in England on 23 June, including a reduction in crucial two metre social distancing rules to “one metre plus” and mass opening of pubs and restaurants from 4 July.

The March 2020 issue of Pharmafocus is available to read free online now!

The latest monthly edition of Pharmafocus, the March issue, is available to read for free online now!

The coronavirus continues to spread and test the response strategies of nations around the world, and pharma and biotech companies are scrambling to develop interventions for the virus. Gilead is currently ahead in the race, with its therapy remdesivir thought to be potentially ready for approval in China as early as May this year. You can read the full story so far in our front page story.

Austerity policies blamed as English life expectancy stalls for first time in a century

A landmark report has shown that English life expectancy has stalled for the first time in a century, and reversed for the poorest women in society.

The review was conducted by Sir Michael Marmot who had warned a decade ago that growing inequality in society would lead to worse health across the country. Marmot believes it could have been avoided and austerity policies facilitated this stalling and decline in life expectancy.

Shionogi's Mulpleo recommended for NHS use across England, Wales and Scotland for chronic liver disease

Both the regulators governing NHS use of medicines in England, Wales and Scotland – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) – have moved to recommend Shionogi’s Mulpleo (lusutrombopag) for the treatment of severe thrombocytopenia in adult patients with chronic liver disease (CLD) undergoing planned invasive procedures.

The decision was based on evidence indicating that the therapy met all primary endpoints in two trials of 312 CLD patients with severe thrombocytopenia and a platelet count of <50,000/µL.

England's antibiotic use is down, but antibiotic-resistant infections still spreading, report warns

A new report has revealed that GPs in England are writing fewer prescriptions for antibiotics, but this has done little to halt the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections.

According to the English surveillance programme for antimicrobial utilisation and resistance (ESPAUR) report, published by Public Health England (PHE), antibiotic prescriptions have fallen by 17% over the past five years, but infections caused by overuse of these drugs continued to increase by 9% to almost 61,000 cases between 2017 and 2018.

Ireland will not suffer immediate medicine shortages in event of no-deal Brexit, says health authority

Though MPs are moving forward with their plan to block UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s supposed no-deal Brexit from the EU and the economic and medical harm that would cause, it has become known that Ireland will not succumb to the same medicine access issues that threaten too affect England.

Responding to Michael Gove, the Government’s Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who has taken charge of planning for a no-deal exit, health officials said that two years of planning now mean that such an exit would not have an immediate impact on supply levels.

Rare Group A strep outbreak kills 12 and infects 20 in Essex

An outbreak of the rare contagious bacteria Group A streptococcal (iGAS) infection in Essex, UK, has resulted in 32 cases of infection and 12 deaths, it has been reported by Public Health England.

The outbreak has spread among elderly patients who are receiving care for chronic wounds in homes and care centres across the districts of Braintree, Chelmsford and Maldon. The cases were first identified in February.

Mental health spending varies dramatically among regions in England, analysis shows

Spending on mental health varies dramatically between regions in England, according to analysis from mental health charity Mind.

South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw spend nearly twice as much (£220) per person on mental health than Surrey Heartlands (£124), the analysis said. Nevertheless, spending continues to rise.

The three biggest spenders were found to be: South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw (£220.63); Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (£207.97); and North Central London (£205.11).

England’s antidepressant prescriptions double to 70m in a decade

Figures released by NHS Digital have revealed that prescriptions for antidepressants in the UK have risen to 70.9 million, almost doubling within a decade from the 36 million prescribed in 2008.

These figures cover all such drugs dispensed in England by the NHS, but do not include those dispensed in hospitals or through private prescriptions.

Prescription rates of antidepressants, which are used to treat conditions including depression and anxiety, have been steadily increasingly over the past few years, with 64.7 million prescriptions in 2016 and 67.5 million in 2017.

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