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Health bill amendments revealed, prostate cancer drug ‘too expensive’, and why ‘toxic’ sugar should be regulated like tobacco

A round-up of the health news in the papers on Thursday 2 February

The Government's 137 changes to the health and social care bill are reported in the Daily Telegraph.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said they were aimed at addressing the "remaining issues" with the bill.

Ministers hope the amendments will put the Health Secretary's responsibility and accountability for the NHS "beyond doubt", according to the Telegraph.

Other key changes include requiring health bodies to involve patients more in decision making, to "actively support" integration, and to promote research.

However, a large number appear to be aimed at clarifying and strengthening language of a bill criticised by some as unreadable, the paper says.

NICE's decision that prostate cancer drug abiraterone (Zytiga) is too expensive for use on the NHS, is covered in The Guardian.

According to the paper, Cancer Research UK said the draft decision which is still open to consultation, made "no sense" and NICE had used the wrong criteria to judge the drug.

Abiraterone which took more than more than two decades of work to develop has improved survival rates for men with prostate cancer.

NICE has ruled that although abiraterone is clinically effective, it is not good value for money for the NHS at the price set by the manufacturer, Janssen, the Guardian says.

Sugar 'is toxic and must be regulated just like cigarettes', claims the Daily Mail.

The paper says an article published in the journal Nature warns that obesity is now a bigger problem than malnourishment across the world and that sugar not only makes people fat but also changes the body's metabolism, raises blood pressure, throws hormones off balance and harms the liver.

The US authors say that, like alcohol, sugar is widely available, toxic, easily abused and harmful to society contributing to 35 million deaths a year worldwide, according to the Mail.

And a new deadly MRSA strain on its way to the UK from USA, according to the Mirror.

Unlike the normal bug which attacks weakened hospital patients, it can infect young and healthy people outside too, the paper says.

Community-acquired MRSA is the USA's biggest infectious killer. It attacks the skin causing abscesses, lethal cases of pneumonia and blood poisoning.

The Mirror reports that University of Bath researcher Justine Rudkin writing in the Journal of Infectious Disease says the new strain, which caused 18,650 deaths in the US in 2005 and can be brought here by carriers, is resistant to antibiotics.

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