UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Was drugs scientist right to speak out?

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drugsThe government’s attitude towards science is under the microscope this week over accusations that expert advice is being ignored if it fails to fit prevailing political agendas.

The row has been prompted by the sacking of the government’s chief drug adviser, Professor David Nutt, who has been making statements that do not fit in with the government’s hard line on drugs. Two of his colleagues resigned in protest over the weekend and more may follow.

Nutt has criticsed the Home Office decision to upgrade cannabis to a Class B drug, saying it is less harmful than alcohol and nicotine. He has previously said taking ecstasy is less dangerous than horse-riding and that consideration should be given to downgrading the classification of both ecstasy and LSD.

Liberal Democrat science spokesman Dr Evan Harris says: ”I fear there will be many more resignations unless the government acts to restore confidence among its independent scientific advisers.”

How bad is the violence in UK cities?

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copViolence resembling the U.S. television crime series “The Wire” has become the norm in British cities, Conservative Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling says.

“It’s the world of the drama series ‘The Wire’ — a series that tracks the nightmare of drugs, gangs and organised crime in inner city west Baltimore.  It’s a horrendous portrayal of the collapse of civilised life and of human despair.”

How should Britain prosecute its drugs strategy?

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Britain’s drug strategy is under the spotlight following the UK Drug Policy Commission’s (UKDPC) recommendation that there is too much energy spent on arresting drug dealers and not enough on reducing harm to communities.

Latest figures show that nearly 90,000 people were arrested in England and Wales for drug offences, with over one billion pounds spent on law enforcement, with £17.6 billion the estimated cost of the UK drug markets.

Are modern cancer drugs worth the money?

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herceptin.jpgWhat price a longer life?

Britain’s National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) reckons four new drugs for kidney cancer are not cost effective, even though they may extend patients’ lives by several months.

The complex calculations used by the watchdog show the drugs, which can cost over 30,000 pounds per patient a year, are just too expensive, given the limited benefits they provide.

Glasgow dire for Labour – but not Crewe

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glasgowcampaign.jpgGlasgow East has a very different feel to Crewe as it gears up for Thursday’s by-election.

In Crewe and Nantwich voters were palpably enthused by the prospect of giving Gordon Brown and Labour a good kicking. They were aware of the national significance of a Tory victory and relished the chance to send Brown a stern message. Turnout was a high 58 percent and the Conservatives achieved a massive 17.6 percent swing to win the seat in May.

Should cannabis be back in Class B?

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cannabis1.jpgThe government has decided to tighten the law on cannabis, reinstating it to a Class B drug, because of fears over the high-strength skunk variety now prevalent on the streets.

Cannabis was downgraded to Class C — which includes substances such as anabolic steroids — in 2004. That meant possession of the drug was treated largely as a non-arrestable offence. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended it should stay as Class C.

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