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This Week in the British Medical Journal: Apr 11, 2011


In the British Medical Journal this week, Zosia Kmietowicz says that while the UK government has launched a $320 million per year fund to pay for expensive anticancer drugs that haven't been approved by NICE, results from a recent survey show that some doctors can't access it and others aren't using it because of the complexity of the application process. A review of spending also shows that across the 10 strategic health authorities in the UK, some have used all of the money allocated to them, and others have spent very little. "The survey of 84 doctors working in four authorities in and around London and in the south west found that about half were unable to prescribe the drugs they wanted to and about a third were put off from applying either because the drug was excluded from the list approved in their area or the process was too complex," Kmietowicz says.

Also in the British Medical Journal this week, researchers Europe, Canada, and the US present findings from a study calculating the burden of cancer attributable to current and former alcohol consumption in eight European countries. The researchers found that 10 percent of total cancer in men and 3 percent of total cancer in women was attributable to former and current alcohol consumption. "In western Europe, an important proportion of cases of cancer can be attributable to alcohol consumption, especially consumption higher than the recommended upper limits," the researchers write. "These data support current political efforts to reduce or to abstain from alcohol consumption to reduce the incidence of cancer."

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.