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BMJ 2008; 336 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39482.661343.DB (Published 07 February 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:296

Massive boost in funding for research: The Wellcome Trust is to increase spending on research by 60% to £4bn (€5bn; $8bn) over the next five years. The money is to be invested in research projects on some of the biggest killers, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

California healthcare plan defeated: The health committee of California’s state senate has voted against a plan that would have made it compulsory for every Californian to have some form of health insurance. The proposal, which had been put forward by the governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was voted down by seven votes to one.

Neurodegenerative diseases research centre for Germany: The German research minister Annette Schavan has announced plans for a centre to research Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. It will be administered by the Helmholtz Association with an annual budget of €50m-60m (£37m-45m; $74m-89m) and will be located near a medical school that is already strong in neurodegenerative research.

Marijuana in pregnancy impairs intellectual ability in offspring: Heavy use of marijuana (one or more cigarettes a day) in the first trimester was associated with lower verbal reasoning scores, and heavy use in the second trimester predicted deficits in short term memory scores, in a study of 648 6 year old children of mothers interviewed about their drug misuse in pregnancy (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2008 Jan 22; doi: 10.1097/chi.0b013e318160b3f0).

FDA warns of increased risk with antiepileptics: The US Food and Drug Administration has sent an alert to health professionals warning about the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours in patients who take antiepileptic drugs. This followed an analysis of 11 trials that show about twice the risk of suicidality (0.43%) compared with patients who took placebo (0.22%).

Massive boost in funding for research: The Wellcome Trust is to increase spending on research by 60% to £4bn (€5bn; $8bn) over the next five years. The money is to be invested in research projects on some of the biggest killers, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Bavarian GPs protest against state healthcare pay and bureaucracy: About 6000 Bavarian GPs gathered last week in Nuremberg to start a campaign in which they plan to abandon contracts for treating the 90% of patients who lack private health insurance by 1 July 2008. They want higher payments for treating patients with state health insurance, after complaining that current rates are too low and associated with too much bureaucracy. GPs in Baden-Wurttemberg have announced that they will join the strike.

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