In brief

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 22 July 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:194

Dutch to change euthanasia bill: The Dutch cabinet has decided to abandon part of its proposed bill on euthanasia because of concerns expressed by doctors and MPs. The bill will no longer include a clause allowing incurably ill 12–16 year olds the right to choose euthanasia if their parents are not in favour.

UN warns against use of spermicide: Women at high risk of being infected with HIV should not use the widely sold spermicide nonoxinol 9 because it may increase the risk rather than reduce it, the United Nations has said. The bulk of evidence from a number of trials shows that nonoxinol 9 either is ineffective or, if used very frequently, as it is sometimes by sex workers, can be harmful, because when it is overused its irritant effects can promote skin breakdown and therefore viral entry.

Cancer becomes biggest killer in Ireland: Cancer outstripped ischaemic heart disease last year as the leading cause of death in people in the Republic of Ireland, according to the latest statistics. Data show that there were 7454 deaths from cancer in 1999 compared with 6876 from ischaemic heart disease.

NICE to appraise anticancer drugs: The government has referred a list of recently licensed anticancer drugs to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence for appraisal under a two year programme. The drugs include temozolomide for brain tumours and paclitaxel and docetaxel for lung cancer. The institute will consult patients' organisations, professional bodies, and manufacturers and will publish details of the technology appraisals on its website (

Free NHS sight tests are taken up: Since the eligibility for a free sight test was extended to people aged over 60 in April 1999 an extra two and a half million people have had a free sight test. Over 10 million sight tests were paid for in the year ending 31 March 2000 compared with 7.5 million in the previous year.