Prescribed alcohol drug ‘Nalmefene’ was licensed despite insufficient evidence to prove its effectiveness

A study from the University of Stirling’s Institute of Social Marketing showed that a drug being used to treat alcohol problems in the UK was licensed for use, despite insufficient evidence to prove its effectiveness.

The drug nalmefene, marketed as Selincro®, was approved in Europe in February 2013 and was subsequently recommended by the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Yet a team of scientists have found problems with the way clinical trials were conducted and analysed, making it impossible to know how much the drug actually helps to reduce drinking in patients dependent on alcohol.

Outlined in the journal Addiction, a group of experts analysed the published studies of nalmefene that formed the basis for the licensing and NICE decision. They concluded that evidence of its effectiveness was weak, and any possible effect on patients was small at around a one drink per day reduction on average. Continue reading

BAT bribing politicians to sabotage anti-smoking laws #tobacco @UniofBath TCRG @BBC

British American Tobacco, one of Britain’s biggest companies, has been accused of bribing senior politicians and civil servants in a bid to sabotage anti-smoking laws.

The allegations by whistleblowers from the company, and supported by court documents, relate to the company’s operations in several African countries.

Paul Hopkins, who served in the Irish Special Forces before working for BAT, claims he broke the law for the tobacco firm. “I was a commercial hitman,” he said in an interview broadcast on BBC One’s Panorama.

Commenting on the practice of bribery, Mr Hopkins, who worked for BAT in Kenya for 13 years, said: “It was explained to me in Africa that’s the cost of doing business.”

Several individuals involved with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) were allegedly targeted.

Under the UK Bribery Act, British companies can be prosecuted for bribery which takes place overseas. And anti-smoking campaigners are demanding the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) launch a criminal investigation into BAT.

“Given how Big Tobacco operates, these latest revelations are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg!

That’s why there must be a full and public inquiry to expose the extent and nature of BAT’s illegal acts. No company should be allowed to put its profits before the health and economic well-being of sovereign nation states.”

Prof Anna Gilmore, University of Bath TCRG

“Panorama’s shocking evidence must be investigated without delay. If true, it is hard to imagine any more disgusting act for a British company than to pay decision makers in Africa to prevent legislation being passed to protect children and young people from a future of addiction, disease and premature death caused by smoking.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health

British American Tobacco accused of bribing government officials | The Guardian

The secret bribes of big tobacco paper trail | BBC

British American Tobacco accused of bribing senior politicians in order to sabotage anti-smoking laws | The Independent