News In Brief


BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 19 July 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:116

Chinese drug agency chief is executed: The disgraced former head of the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, was executed on 10 July, after the failure of his appeal against the death sentence for bribery and dereliction of duty. On 29 May Mr Zheng was found guilty of taking ¥6.5m (£0.4m; €0.6m, $0.8m) in bribes and failing to ensure drug safety. On 6 July his former aide, Cao Wenzhuang, was sentenced to death with a two year reprieve.

HRT prescribing for menopause falls: The number of prescriptions of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause has halved in the UK since 2002, a new study has found. But the study, which was based on prescribing by GPs between 1991 and 2005 to women aged 40 or over, also found that prescribing of bisphosphonates for osteoporosis had risen. This increase “reinforces the need for research into the long term risks and benefits of these therapies,” says the study in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (doi: 10.1007/s00228-007-0320-6).

Dutch government lowers age threshold for flu jab: Everyone in the Netherlands is to be offered annual flu vaccinations from the age of 60, rather than 65, following advice from the government's scientific adviser, the Dutch Health Council. A study for the council's advisory report on the national flu prevention programme showed that the numbers of visits to GPs, hospital admissions, and deaths resulting from flu are rising, even in healthy 60 to 65 year olds. (See

EU bans mercury measuring instruments: Members of the European parliament have banned non-electrical mercury thermometers and other mercury instruments from sale to the public. The ban will include new fever thermometers for professional or private use.

PCTs fail to make best use of Sure Start centres: Shortages in health visitors and the failure of primary care trusts (PCTs) to use Sure Start children's centres for outreach work is affecting the potential of the centres, says a report from the parliamentary public accounts committee. The centres are aimed at reaching the most disadvantaged children aged under 5 years. (Sure Start Children's Centres: 38th Report of Session 2006-07 is available at

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