BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 04 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:550

Tobacco firms in US face addiction claims: A judge in Louisiana has ruled that collective action can be brought against tobacco companies by Americans who have smoked during the past 50 years and have become addicted to nicotine. A consortium of 60 law firms is preparing to take on the main companies on behalf of all smokers before one jury. There are an estimated 90 million smokers in the US.

Number of NHS managers and their pay rise: The British government has announced that the number of general and senior managers in regional health authorities rose from 360 in 1989 to 1400 in 1993 and in family health services authorities from 30 to 1060. Salary costs for managers in regional health authorities rose from £11.1m in 1989-90 to £58.9m in 1993-4.

UK prescription charges rise: NHS prescription charges will rise to £5.25 from 1 April. The fees for prescription prepayment certificates will rise to £27.20 for a four month certificate and £74.80 for an annual certificate. About 80% of items are dispensed. The maximum charge for a single course of dental treatment will increase from £275 to £300.

Pregnant women advised to avoid contact with sheep: The British health and agriculture departments have advised pregnant women to avoid close contact with sheep during lambing periods because of the risk of infection with Chlamydia psittaci, which causes abortion in ewes.

World will be reported polio free within three years of last reported case: The World Health Organisation says that it will declare the world free of polio when three years have elapsed without a reported case. The western world is polio free, and the WHO believes that between 6000 and 8000 cases will be reported this year.

Health Care International bought by Middle East company: Health Care International, the private hospital in Clydebank, Scotland, will be relaunched under the ownership of the Abu Dhabi Investment Company. The company plans to market complex medical treatments to patients in the Middle East, southern Europe, and Africa. The hospital cost £180m, £30m of which came from the public

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