Friday Five

A life-saving drug, the effects of Vitamin D and an incentive for antibiotic research – this week’s Friday Five

Life-saving drug for Covid-19 authorised by the UK government

The UK government has authorised immediate use of a steroid treatment on the NHS, after results from the UK RECOVERY trial showed that drug reduces the mortality rate by 17%.

Doctors can now administer the anti-inflammatory to all UK hospitalised Covid-19 patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators.

The government has already built additional stocks of the steroid, with enough to treat over 200,000 people from these alone. Companies have also been banned from buying stocks meant for UK patients and selling them on for a higher price abroad.

Read the full story in the PharmaTimes.

UK public health bodies to review of the Vitamin D’s effect of on Covid-19

Public health officials in the UK have begun work to urgently review the ability of vitamin D to reduce the effects of Covid-19. It comes alongside concerns that BAME populations are disproportionately affected by the virus with the idea that cultural differences in diet and lifestyle could be a key reason.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) began work last month and is considering recent evidence on vitamin D and acute respiratory tract infection in the general population. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) have also announced they are conducting a “rapid” evidence review on vitamin D in the context of Covid-19.

It is understood that both reviews will be published in the coming weeks.

Read the full story in The Guardian.

NHS England launches scheme to incentivise pharmaceutical companies to invest in antibiotic research

The UK government has launched the world’s first ‘subscription-style’ payment model for antibiotics to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and development.

Currently, antibiotic research isn’t particularly commercially attractive as it is associated with high costs and low returns. As a result, few new classes of antibiotic have been discovered since the 1980s.

Under the new scheme, the NHS will offer two contracts to pay pharmaceutical companies at the start of their research for access to the antibiotics, with the aim of fuelling the development of new antibiotics.

Read the full story in the PharmaTimes.

Telephone and text consultations more popular than video

A number of digital healthcare providers have reported that telephone and text consultations are proving more popular with patients than video consultations during the pandemic.

Providers have put this down to video being newer than telephone and therefore less familiar and that texts and telephone calls are more convenient for patients.

However, despite these apparent trends, the datasets on patients’ use of online appointments are unreliable and the Digital Healthcare Council has called for immediate changes in the way this information is collected.

This story in Digital Health News was a true showcase of ZPB’s clients; the Digital Healthcare Council, Docly, Visiba Care and Push Doctor.


Quote of the week

A number of senior doctors are calling for reviews of NHS capacity, workforce and protective equipment ahead of a potential second wave of the pandemic.

Ravi Mahajan, president of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, said: “We can’t wait for [the pandemic] to finish and then review. [The reviews] have to be dynamic, ongoing, and the sooner they start the better.”

Read the full story in the HSJ.