The Health News United Kingdom November 2 2017

  • Sue Frith, chief executive of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority promised a crackdown as she released figures suggesting the yearly bill for fraud in the NHS topped £1bn. Cases include patients falsely claiming for exemptions on dental and prescription fees, and dentists charging for work they had not done.
  • Drug giants Bayer and Novartis are threatening to take the NHS to court for plans to offer patients cheap treatment to prevent blindness. Research has found that a £12 drug is just as effective as injections which cost £800 for treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). But health authorities which have drawn up plans to offer patients the cheaper option are facing judicial review from the companies which market the more expensive drugs.
  • Early research suggests a blood test in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy could indicate a risk of miscarriage or premature birth. The proposed blood test screens for molecules called microRNA, which are found in blood cells in the placental bed – a thick membrane that lines the uterus during pregnancy. In the UK, one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage, while Britain has one of the highest rates of premature birth in Europe.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 2nd of November 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-41824180

More will be done to protect the NHS in England from “despicable” acts of fraud, the head of the health service’s new anti-fraud body has said. Sue Frith promised a crackdown as she released figures suggesting the yearly bill for fraud in the NHS topped one billion pounds. Cases include patients falsely claiming for exemptions on dental and prescription fees, and dentists charging for work they had not done. Miss Frith,the chief executive of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority said the fraud takes vital funds from front line care.

The analysis by her team estimated that one point twenty five billion pounds of fraud is being committed each year by patients, staff and contractors – the first time the health service has put a figure on total fraud committed itself. The sum represents about one percent of the NHS budget. The two biggest single areas of fraud were related to patients and procurement of good and services, both of which was likely to cost the NHS in excess of two hundred million pounds a year each, according to Miss Frith. She said patient fraud included cases where people wrongly claimed for exemptions for the cost of things like prescriptions and dental fees.
Meanwhile, payroll fraud was thought to be costing ninety million pounds a year, while dentists were said to be claiming around seventy million pounds in work on NHS patients that has not been done. Miss Frith acknowledged the NHS must do better at detecting and preventing fraud.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/01/legal-threat-nhs-plans-cheap-treatment-prevent-blindness/

Two drug giants are threatening to take the NHS to court for plans to offer patients cheap treatment to prevent blindness. Research has found that a twelve pound drug is just as effective as injections which cost eight hundred pounds for treatment of age-related macular degeneration or AMD – the leading cause of sight loss. But health authorities which have drawn up plans to offer patients the cheaper option are facing judicial review from the companies which market the more expensive drugs.

A treatment called Avastin – originally developed to treat cancer – has been found to be an effective treatment for wet AMD, one of the most aggressive forms of the eye condition.
Several areas have already prescribed the drug, with estimates that the NHS could save more than five hundred million pounds year if all suitable patients were switched to it.
But the drug companies Bayer and Novartis – which market the only treatments licensed for wet AMD – have now threatened legal action against twelve NHS authorities planning to offer Avastin for eye conditions.

The drug companies Bayer and Novartis, which market the more expensive products Lucentis and Eylea, have now launched a legal challenge, the BMJ has revealed. The firms say the NHS policies breach a patient’s legal right to be treated with drugs backed by the watchdogs the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence. And they have suggested that elderly patients with eyesight problems may lack the cognitive capacity to make a fully informed decision about their treatment.

The CCGs say that they are protecting the public interest and allege that the companies are protecting their commercial interests.
A spokesperson for Bayer said that using “unlicensed medicines” instead of a licensed and NICE approved option “runs the risk of setting a precedent that undermines the regulatory framework and NHS constitution.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-41831074

Early research suggests a blood test in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy could indicate a risk of miscarriage or premature birth. US doctors believe they have found molecules in the blood that can be linked to serious birth complications, months before symptoms are apparent.
The findings could help doctors take steps to avoid premature birth. But experts warned against overstating the findings, citing the “small and preliminary” nature of the research. In the UK, one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage, while Britain has one of the highest rates of premature birth in Europe. The proposed blood test screens for molecules called microRNA, which are found in blood cells in the placental bed – a thick membrane that lines the uterus during pregnancy.

The team, from the Laboratory for Reproductive Medicine and Immunology in San Francisco, assessed the microRNA cells’ ability to predict premature birth, preeclampsia, and miscarriage during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. In total, they looked at one hundred sixty births – over a series of four published studies. The results predicted miscarriage and late preeclampsia with about ninety percent accuracy and premature birth before thirty four weeks with about 89% accuracy. Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition where abnormally high blood pressure and other problems develop during pregnancy. It affects up to ten percent of all first-time pregnancies and often leads to premature birth.

Daniel Brison, honorary professor of clinical embryology and stem cell biology at the University of Manchester, said the study was “exciting looking” in a much needed area. But he added: “Although the results might seem exciting and cutting edge, there is unfortunately a high risk of them being wrong.

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