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Concern over cough syrup claims, surgeries denied to the elderly and de-criminalising cannabis

The Telegraph this morning reports on a a study by Which? questioning whether many of the top over the counter brands provide effective treatment.

The study, which included a panel of medical experts, looked at familiar over the counter brands, big players in a £3 billion a year industry. Studies looking into the effectiveness of key ingredient, guaifenesin, was of low quality, they said.

A Which? spokesperson said: ‘We spend billions on over-the-counter pharmacy products each year but we’ve found evidence of popular products making claims that our experts judged just aren’t backed by sufficient evidence.

They added: ‘Companies should be upfront with the evidence behind the claims they make so that consumers can make an informed decision.’

However, all the brands investigated met the standards of the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which asks for evidence to justify any claims advertised.

The MHRA said: ‘All medicines licensed in the UK have demonstrated efficacy. It is a legal requirement for the licence holder to be able to justify, at all times, the efficacy of the medicinal product.’


Older people are being denied surgery for cancer, hernia repairs and joint replacements because of NHS ‘cutoff’ thresholds which are based on ‘outdated assumptions of age and fitness’, reported the Guardian today.

The study by the Royal College of Surgeons, the charity Age UK and communications consultancy MHP Health Mandate, advised that biological- rather than chronological- age should be used by health professionals deciding whether a patient should receive surgery.

Increasingly good health and longer life expectancy of older people made birth date alone unreliable as the major deciding factor, it said.

Professor Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons said: ‘The gap between the increasing health need and access to surgery means many older people are missing out on potentially lifesaving treatment,”

‘It is alarming to think the treatment a patient receives may be influenced by their age, The key is that it is a decision based on the patient rather than how old they are that matters.’


Over at the Daily Mail you’ll find a report on a study which said cannabis is no worse than junk food.

A report from the UK Drug Policy Commission, an independent charity, said drug taking is simply another ‘moderately selfish behaviour, similar to gambling or a diet of burger and chips’.

Growing cannabis for personal use should not be a criminal offence, it advised, and said the Government should concentrate on damage limitation and ensuring users take substances ‘responsibly’ rather than a blanket ban of drugs.

The report was condemned by some campaign groups. Mary Brett, of Cannabis, Skunk, Sense, an organisation whose aim is to prevent the use of drugs, said de-criminalising cannabis would be dangerous. She said: ‘They just haven’t thought it out. Drugs are illegal because they are dangerous. Cannabis is getting stronger each year.’

‘People haven’t grasped how cannabis affects the brain. It contains chemicals within the plant that stick in the brain cells. This impairs the transmission of all the other chemicals that carry out functions in the brain.’