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Do free prescriptions lead to waste? David Smart/Shutterstock

Prescription charging must balance health and budget benefits

The call to abolish the prescription charge in England by the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin is the centre of great debate. Unsurprisingly so. The cost of making and buying pharmaceutical drugs is an emotive…
Only around 10% of the codeine dose will give you analgesia, but 100% of it will give you side effects. Andrzej Wilusz

Health Check: how do you choose strong painkillers?

Commonly used over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen will usually be strong enough to alleviate common aches and pains. But if you’re suffering from acute pain from dental…
Careful now… Kineckt

Fear and trembling through the bloody eye of the needle

It was late on a Friday afternoon in November. I was a 21 year-old medical student diligently waiting for an opportunity to practice some medical procedures when a patient was admitted who was happy for…
Dung beetles love the Milky Way because they use it for navigation. No, seriously they do. mattvisser

Ig Nobels 2013: from attaching penises to stargazing beetles

This year’s Ig Nobel prizes were awarded on September 12 at a meeting of nerds at Harvard University. The prizes are given for genuine scientific research that “first makes people laugh and then makes…
Wait till you meet gut bacteria. epSos .de

Meddling gut bacteria get in the way of drug therapy

Bacteria in the human gut, which are present in the billions, can change the effect of medicine. This has been demonstrated for at least 40 drugs. But, until now, nobody knew exactly how. New research…
Drug companies invent hundreds of new molecules that they hope to turn into saleable medicines. Keith Ramsey

Can’t pronounce the name of your medicine? Here’s why

Gone are the good old days when medicines had simple, easy to pronounce names such as aspirin, paracetamol and morphine. Nowadays pharmaceutical companies almost seem to revel in giving drugs names that…
Prescriptions for pain relief are easy to get in the UK but not if you live in certain countries. PA/Julien Behal

Pain-relief access crisis leaves millions suffering around globe

Ten percent of the world consumes 90% of the morphine. At first glance that’s just another statistic about haves and have nots. But it’s more stark than that - particularly if you have cancer in a country…
Medicine residues that we flush down the toilet can affect fish and other wildlife. Chris Ison/PA

Popping pills can harm wildlife via a trip to the loo

It’s not a thought that occurs to most of us, but flushing the toilet doesn’t just mean disposing of our bodily waste. We’re also flushing away some of the medicine we take down with it. Our contraceptive…
Novartis sought to charge A$26,000 a year for its anti-cancer drug, compared with A$2,000 per year for a generic copy. ChrisGoldNY

India’s Novartis patent ruling puts health before profits

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis this week lost a seven-year legal battle over a drug patent in India. It’s certainly a win for those in India who use the drug, and for patients in India more generally…
Medical experts say more transparency is needed in financial dealings between big drug companies and doctors. Flickr/e-MagineArt.com

Code for pharmaceutical industry ‘falls short’

Pharmaceutical companies will be required to disclose more details about their financial ties to doctors under a revised…

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