In brief

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 17 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5279

Merck is subpoenaed by US justice department: The US Department of Justice has subpoenaed Merck & Co as part of a criminal investigation into the marketing practices of three of its prescription drugs. Merck has confirmed that the department has asked for information dating back to 2004 on its marketing activity for temozolomide (which it sells as Temodar) for the treatment of brain cancer and hepatitis C and the anticancer drugs peginterferon alfa-2b (Pegintron) and interferon alfa-2b (Intron A).

Only a quarter of GPs are ready for commissioning: A snapshot survey of 100 practising GPs across England by the pollster Ipsos MORI shows that only one in four think that their consortium will be ready to take on full commissioning responsibilities by April 2013. Almost one in three (32%) said they didn’t know when their consortium would be ready, and 5% said it would never be ready. Furthermore, over half (55%) think that clinically led commissioning, involving GPs, hospital doctors, and other professionals, will either make no difference or be a little worse than GP led commissioning, as originally proposed by the government. See

Funds needed for UK healthcare set to grow and grow: By 2014 health services will account for nearly 30% of the public services budget in the United Kingdom, excluding security and debt interest, while spending on health, pensions, and long term care will eat up 47% of this budget in 50 years’ time, says a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Governments have three options, concludes The Changing Composition of Public Spending ( increase total spending; alter spending on health and pensions to cap future costs; or cut back elsewhere.

Health department acts to curb drug wastage: The Department of Health for England has set up a steering group to curb wastage in drugs and help people stick to their treatment regimens better, the combined consequences of which cost the NHS an estimated £800m (€910m; $1.3bn) a year. The group will be made up of experts and patients’ representatives and is expected to report in early 2012.

Waiting times for diagnostic tests rise: The number of patients in England waiting more than six weeks for any one of the 15 key diagnostic tests at the end of June has risen, in comparison with the same time last year, show the latest monthly figures from the Department of Health. Some 12 500 people were waiting, up by 9000 from June 2010. See

Psychological guide for aid workers is launched: The World Health Organization, the War Trauma Foundation, and World Vision International have issued Psychological First Aid: Guide for Field Workers for dealing with people in events such as wars and natural disasters ( The guide covers social and psychological support and outlines ways to provide non-intrusive practical care and support, assess needs and concerns, and protect people from further harm.

Diabetic patients are fastest growing drug market: The number of people with diabetes is set to double from 285 million to 438 million, or 7.8% of the world’s population, by 2030, prompting a demand for more effective drugs, says a report by the business analysts Frost & Sullivan. India heads the league table, closely followed by China, and 70% of current cases are in low and middle income countries. By 2030 the global cost of treatment and prevention is expected to reach $490bn, says Diabetes Therapeutics: The Race for Market Share (


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5279

View Abstract

Sign in

Log in through your institution

Free trial

Register for a free trial to to receive unlimited access to all content on for 14 days.
Sign up for a free trial