This site is intended for health professionals only

Protestors’ last stand on health bill, High Court clears MMR Autism-link doctor, and how Alzheimer’s drugs could treat patients in ‘much later stages’

A round-up of the health news in the papers on Thursday 8 March

Protesters sheltering from the cold London drizzle under their umbrellas may be a metaphor for the state of the Save our NHS campaign.

The protestors were pictured in the Guardian, which reported on what could be one of the campaign's final rallies at Westminster before the government's proposed health reforms finally reach the statute book.

Marchers converged on Parliament from the headquarters of the BMA and from nearby St Thomas's hospital to hear medics and union leaders deride both the content and the handling of the government's Health and Social Care Bill.

But among the speakers, the paper reports, was Lord Owen, himself a former doctor, and a strong critic of the reforms, who suggested that the protestors may be close to losing their fight to defeat the bill.

The Daily Mail covers the High Court's decision to clear the name of a doctor involved in the MMR vaccine and autism row.

Professor John Walker-Smith was struck off in 2010 by the General Medical Council because of his involvement in research that led to claims of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

A High Court judge said the GMC's fitness to practise panel had displayed ‘inadequate and superficial reasoning.'

The Guardian reports that Alzheimer's drugs that prompted a judicial review five years ago, could be used to treat patients in much later stages of the disease than previously thought.

Drug manufacturers Eisai took NICE to court in 2007 after donepezil and similar drugs were restricted to patients with moderate, rather than mild, symptoms of Alzheimer's.

NICE later amended its guidance to allow patients with mild symptoms to receive treatment, and the latest trials show that the drugs can also improve quality of life for patients in the later stages of the disease.