Intended for healthcare professionals


Seven days in medicine: 17-23 May 2017

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 25 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2508

NHS deficits

Trusts overspend by £770m despite bailout

NHS trusts are set to record a combined deficit of £770m (€893m; $1bn) in 2016-17, an analysis by the Health Service Journal showed.1 This is substantially less than the record £2.45bn overspend incurred in 2015-16 but £190m more than the maximum £580m target set by NHS Improvement. NHS leaders acknowledged that the £770m figure would have been higher without £1.8bn of bailout funding in 2016-17. NHS Improvement was blocked from publishing the official year end figures earlier this month under election purdah rules.

Drug prices

Aspen faces probe over hiking generic prices

The European Commission launched an investigation into increased prices on cancer drugs imposed by Aspen, a South African company, which acquired five drugs from GlaxoSmithKline in 2009 in a deal worth $2.2bn (then about £1.4bn) in cash and shares. Aspen increased the UK price of busulfan, a leukaemia drug, from £5.20 (currently €6.03; $6.75) to £69.02 a pack, and chlorambucil, also used in leukaemia treatments, increased from £8.36 to £42.87. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said that people depended on the drugs “to save or prolong our lives.” (Full story doi:10.1136/bmj.j2417)

Tobacco control

Plain packaging arrives in UK

Standardised cigarette packaging with large graphic warnings came into effect in the UK at the weekend. All packs must contain 20 cigarettes to be big enough to display the …

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