News in brief – May 2015

Who’s responsible?

Responsible drinking messages in advertising are being used by the alcohol industry to promote their brands rather than help consumers ‘make sensible choices about their drinking’, according to a report from Alcohol Concern. The charity wants to see ‘ambiguous’ messages replaced with factual health warnings, after its research found that responsible drinking messages had ‘frequently been expanded to include the brand name or drink type, or some other extra wording added to fit the wider theme of the advertising campaign’.

Drink responsibly (but please keep drinking) at


More NPS banned

Five more ‘legal highs’ have been banned under temporary powers by the government. Compounds related to methylphenidate – including ethylphenidate, which is sold as Gogaine or Burst – are now subject to a temporary class drug order (TCDO) for up to 12 months while the ACMD decides whether they should be permanently controlled. ‘Users have been known to inject the drug, putting themselves at risk of blood-borne disease and infection,’ said the Home Office.


Hep awareness

A new film about hepatitis C designed to raise awareness and improve confidence in diagnosis among GPs and other primary care staff has been launched by the Royal College of GPs, HCV Action and the Hepatitis C Trust. ‘Despite the fact that hepatitis C affects so many hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, we frequently hear of low awareness and knowledge of the virus among GPs,’ said Hepatitis C Trust chief executive Charles Gore. ‘GPs will be increasingly relied upon in the future to manage and detect the virus, so this really is a must-see film.’

Detecting & managing hepatitis C in primary care available to view at


Cannabis care

Provision of effective cannabis treatment is likely to become more vital in European drug policy, according to a new report from EMCDDA. The document analyses the interventions most likely to be successful, based on evidence from a range of treatment programmes across Europe. ‘With large numbers entering cannabis programmes every year in Europe, largely paid for by public funds, treatment effectiveness is a key consideration for policy,’ said EMCDDA director Wolfgang Götz. ‘With this report we hope to offer experts and policymakers a firm basis for their decision-making.’ Treatment of cannabis-related disorders in Europe at


Drink violence down

The number of violence-related A&E attendances in England and Wales last year was down by more than 100,000 compared to 2010, according to figures released by Cardiff University’s violence research group, with a fall in binge drinking rates among young people thought to be partly responsible. ‘Reductions in alcohol consumption (litres per capita) and in high episodic drinking (more than eight units per session for males and six units per session for females)’ among 16 to 24-year-olds were a likely contributory factor to the reduction in violence – ‘much of which takes place in urban centre streets at night’, says the document.

Violence in England and Wales in 2014: an accident and emergency perspective at


Codeine codes

Codeine should not be used to treat coughs and colds in the under-12s, the European Medicines Agency has stated. Codeine’s conversion into morphine in the body can cause side effects including breathing difficulties in some children. The ruling, which follows a previous review of the use of codeine for pain relief in children, has been endorsed by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).