Intended for healthcare professionals


In brief

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 12 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1574

Japan approves the contraceptive pill: A Japanese government panel announced its recommendation last week to allow sales of oral contraceptives. The Health and Welfare Ministry is expected to approve the recommendation of its Central Pharmaceutical Affairs Council in about a month. The approval comes nearly a decade after pharmaceutical companies first applied to sell oral contraceptives in Japan and almost four decades after they were made available in many other countries.

Clinical pharmacologists need enhanced training: A report from the Royal College of Physicians in England recommends a coordinated approach to the recruitment, training, and retention of clinical pharmacologists in the NHS. It suggests a core curriculum for undergraduate training, and because postgraduate education depends heavily on the drug industry, it recommends tailored education programmes.

Netherlands predicts increased need for genetic counselling: The Dutch Health Council is predicting a rapid increase in the demand for counselling for hereditary forms of cancer. Its latest report on clinical genetic testing and counselling predicts that DNA testing will double in five years to about 20000 tests a year, largely due to requests from people with a family history of breast or bowel cancer.

UK launch of first COX-2 inhibitor: The first agent to be licensed as an inhibitor of cyclo-oxygenase-2 (the enzyme responsible for triggering pain in osteoarthritis) without inhibiting cyclo-oxygenase-1 (which helps to protect the stomach lining), was launched this week. Trials suggest that the agent, rofecoxib, achieves effective pain relief in osteoarthritis, comparable to that of high doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs but with a significantly lower incidence of gastrointestinal side effects.