Weekly news - 3rd May 2019


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Opioid painkillers to carry prominent addiction warnings

Health secretary Matt Hancock promises action after 60% increase in prescriptions in 10 years | Guardian, UK

UK online pharmacies accused of 'aggressive' tactics to sell opiates

Guardian investigation reveals ID check failures and the use of inappropriate marketing | Guardian, UK

Cannabis possession offences fall 75pc in a decade as police accused of decriminalising the drug

Cannabis possession offences have dropped up to 75 per cent in 10 years, as MPs have accused police of decriminalising the drug | Telegraph, UK

One in six people dying of lung cancer in UK are non-smokers, experts say

Scientists blame rise on car fumes, secondhand smoke and soot from wood-burning stoves | Guardian, UK

Imperial launches world’s first Centre for Psychedelics Research

Funded by more than £3 million from five founding donors, the new Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research will build on over a decade of pioneering work in this area carried out at Imperial, including a clinical trial that has kick-started global efforts to develop psilocybin therapy into a licensed treatment for depression. It will also investigate their potential for treating other conditions, including anorexia | Imperial College London, UK

Additions to the Effectiveness Bank 26 April 2019

When the key goal of opioid substitution therapy is to deter use of heroin and other illicit opioids, ensuring patients receive a high enough dose and stay engaged with treatment is essential. Three analyses probe the capacity of methadone and buprenorphine to stabilise patients, while another Effectiveness Bank entry examines the psychosocial levers that drug-free therapeutic communities can pull for a population facing significant challenges around substance use including opioid dependence | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

NICE consultation on QOF IBA indicators & prevention and treatment guidance

The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) is undertaking a consultation to review its guidance on prevention (PH24) and treatment (CG115), and new proposed QOF indicators for alcohol brief intervention in Primary Care | Alcohol Policy UK, UK

School exclusions for drugs and alcohol at ten-year high as 'county lines' gangs are blamed

School exclusions for drugs and alcohol have risen by 57 per cent in five years, an analysis of official data shows, as “county lines” gangs are blamed | Telegraph, UK

More than 2,500 prison staff disciplined in five years with majority for sex and drugs, MoJ figures show

Thousands of prison staff have been subject to disciplinary action in the past five years, including for relationships with inmates, assaulting prisoners and racism | Telegraph, UK

Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services in England April 2018 to December 2018

166,880 people set a quit date and at the 4 week follow-up 86,167 people (52 per cent) had successfully quit (self-reported) | NHS Digital, UK

Has new alcohol law changed drinking habits?

Ministers are hopeful that new statistics will show Scotland's drinking habits have changed after a new law pushed up the price of cheap, high-strength alcohol | BBC, UK

Volteface Publish New Report ‘Making the Grade’ in Partnership with Mentor

The report considers how the UK’s education system responds to drugs by examining the approaches taken to preventing, identifying and responding to illegal drug use and selling in schools. It looks at the policy frameworks that these responsibilities operate within and considers how efficacious they are in safeguarding children and young people from drug-related harm | Volte Face and Mentor, UK

NHS England strikes world leading deal to help eliminate hepatitis C

The NHS will find and cure tens of thousands more people with hepatitis C as part of a ground-breaking deal that could help England become the first country in the world to eliminate the deadly virus | NHS England, UK

Alcohol-free beer being rolled out on TAP across Britain to quench growing thirst of ‘dry drinkers’

Sales of booze-free beers are surging as health-conscious drinkers guzzle alcohol-free options | Sun, UK

MDMA: Why it's 'impossible' to know how the drug affects you

More than 650 seized ecstasy tablets were tested in a study by Queen Mary University and experts at St George's University in London. It found that levels of MDMA, the active drug in ecstasy, varied by more than 250% in the same batch | BBC, UK

Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol: How will we know if it works?

Today marks the first anniversary of the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol. The policy had a stormy journey through Parliament and questions are now being asked about what it is achieving | SPICe, UK

Still seldom heard and hard to reach. Still drinking? NEET young people and alcohol consumption in a Northern town

In 2008 the researchers undertook a study exploring the drinking careers of young people who are not in education, employment and training (NEET) in a small post-industrial town in England... This report presents research which repeated the study with the same cohort of young people described as NEET, in the same geographical location, to see if anything has changed over the ensuing 10 years, and to further investigate this under researched group | Alcohol Change UK, UK

NHS smoking cessation services: October to December 2018

3,391 Welsh resident smokers were treated by smoking cessation services | Welsh Government, UK

Why medical cannabis is still out of patients’ reach—an essay by David Nutt

Cannabis has been used as a medicine for millennia, writes David Nutt, who charts its relatively recent prohibition, the effect on patients such as Billy Caldwell, and the failure of legal reform to make much difference | BMJ, UK

Scientists find cocaine in shrimps in Suffolk rivers

Scientists found cocaine in freshwater shrimps when testing rivers for chemicals, a study said | BBC, UK

329 NGOs call on world leaders to address the global health and human rights crisis among people who use drugs on the occasion of the 26th International Harm Reduction Conference

As civil society and global experts gather in Porto for the 26thInternational Harm Reduction Conference, 329 NGOs are calling on the international community to address the ongoing global health and human rights crisis among people who use drugs | IDPC, UK

Billionaire founder of opioid firm guilty of bribing doctors to prescribe drug

The head of a leading drug manufacturer has been found guilty of bribing doctors to prescribe a dangerous painkiller to patients who did not need it, in the first criminal conviction of a pharma chief over the opioid epidemic | Guardian, UK

Yes, drug use is a class issue – and its the middle class who have the most to answer for

Sajid Javid is wrong to blame ‘middle class cocaine users’ for violent knife crime. But we must also get away from the harmful stereotype that drug users are all working class | Independent voices, UK