* Drug manufacturers charged an average 60 per cent more for drugs sold in the US than they did in the UK. The US General Accounting Office said the price differential ranged over 77 commonly prescribed drugs in 1991. The greatest differential was with the contraceptive Nordene which cost 1712 per cent more in the US (The Lancet, 12 February 1994).
* Four UK pharmaceutical companies have been fined for spending tens of thousands of pounds on GPs in cash payments, foreign trips and other inducements to encourage them to prescribe their products. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has accused Glaxo, Fisons, Allen & Hanburys and Duphar Laboratories of serious malpractice.
* Women who eat a lot of fish and other seafood during pregnancy have heavier and taller babies. A study in the Faroe Islands has concluded that this may be because the fatty acids found in seafood prolong the duration of pregnancy while increasing fetal growth by improving placental blood flow (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 1994; 47: 436-40).
* People with a history of kidney problems should avoid non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. Doctors at St Mary's Hospital in Portsmouth, England, have issued the warning after a 76 year old patient twice suffered acute kidney failure after taking ibuprofen orally and, later, as a skin cream (BMJ, 19 February 1994).