The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) and information on medicines

The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) has published a report on “Information on benefit-risk of medicines: patients’, consumers’ and healthcare professionals’ expectations”.

Following a request from patients, consumers and healthcare professionals, the European Medicines Agency carried out a survey to find out ways to improve the information it provides on the benefits and risks of medicines. This was followed by a workshop, where the participants had the opportunity to share their experiences and to make proposals for improvement.

The EMEA together with the Patients’ and Consumers’ Working Party (PCWP), and the Healthcare Professionals’ Working Group (HCP WG) have prepared a report on the outcome of this project and proposals for action.

Viagra available on the high street

Men will be able to get Viagra on the high street for the first time with the launch of a pharmacy service for male sexual problems.

From the 18th June 2009, pharmacists at Boots stores across the country will offer men a half-hour consultation to assess the problem and offer a course of the prescription-only drugs. The tests will involve a questionnaire, a check of the person’s medical history and a series of blood tests, including glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels to rule out a more serious health problem. The service will be available in a private consultation room in 29 stores and will cost £55 for the initial screening and then £26.59 for four tablets. Patients can return for a check up and get further supplies.

Pharmacist James Longden, who led a pilot study in Manchester, said: “Sometimes it can be a bit of an embarrassing subject to talk about and many didn’t know where to turn to for help.” He said that some men, whose family doctor was part of a small village practice or a personal friend, wanted to talk to someone they would not see again about the problem. Others accepted it as an inevitable part of the ageing process and thought they should not bother their doctor with it.

Erectile dysfunction affects one in 10 British men and it is estimated that only 10 per cent of the estimated 2.3 million men who suffer are being treated.

Source: Daily Telegraph. June 19 2009

Sex is a leap of faith: communication, not technique, is what matters most, survey suggests

What are the key ingredients to great sex? According to a new research study, they’re all in your mind. Contrary to the pop culture notion that hot looks and masterful technique are what matter, the study released yesterday in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality found the real essentials are emotional connection between partners, communication and focus. The study is titled The Components Of Optimal Sexuality: A Portrait Of “Great Sex.” led by sex therapist and University of Ottawa psychologist Peggy Kleinplatz,

That’s what researchers discovered when they went straight to the source 44 people who reported experiencing “great sex” were drawn from two groups that are often overlooked in sexuality surveys. Those included Canadians over 60 with a lifetime of experience and sexual minorities including gay, lesbian and bisexual participants. An additional 20 sex therapists added their professional insights.”The findings paint a radically different picture of optimal sexuality than what is portrayed in the mass media,” the researchers concluded. Technical prowess and physiological functions like hard erections or even orgasms were not what counted most for those in the study.”The actual sexual behaviours and acts performed are far less important than the mindset and intent of the person or couple engaged in these acts.”The study, identified key components to great sex that were universal among those surveyed. They include: being present, connection, deep sexual and erotic intimacy, extraordinary communication, authenticity, vulnerability, interpersonal risk-taking and exploration.

Josey Vogels, a popular sex and relationship columnist and author, says the findings are important at a time when “quick-fix solutions” like pharmaceuticals and “how-to” lists in magazines are so commonly pitched as the answers to boosting your sex life. The study reinforces that fulfilling sex is rooted in communication and intimacy “and a very small slice of it is about the physical,” Vogels said from her Bancroft home. It also explains why many people don’t renew Viagra prescriptions because, she said, the drug gives them a physical erection “but that doesn’t necessarily mean their sexual communication and relationship with their partner is going to change.”Vogels said the inclusion of older Canadians in the study reaffirms the growing recognition that sexuality does not have to diminish with age. The 25 older participants were ages 60 through 82. “Although older married people are generally not considered first as a font of information about optimal sexuality,” the study said, “it stands to reason that individuals and couples who have managed to make this experience last a lifetime … have much to teach the rest of us.” The researchers noted that so-called “normal” sexual function was not necessary to having an optimal sex life and that partners willingly adjusted to diminished physical ability and responsiveness that came from age, illness and disability. It concluded that those with fulfilling sex lives “have learned to ignore conventional performance expectations in order to listen to and take responsibility for their own hearts’ desires.”


Serious health risk posed by Traditional Chinese Medicine ‘Herbal Viagra’

Dangerously high levels of undeclared pharmaceuticals have been discovered in a supposed ‘Herbal Viagra’ being sold in many Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) stores in the United Kingdom. The product ‘Jia Yi Jian’ recently seized by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) claimed to contain only herbal ingredients. However, laboratory analysis revealed the unlicensed product contained up to four times the level of pharmaceuticals found in legally prescribed medicinal products licensed for the treatment of obesity and erectile dysfunction. Manufactured by Hu Nan Aimin Pharmaceuticals Ltd, the undeclared ingredients could cause serious side effects including significant heart and blood pressure problems as well as adversely reacting with other prescription drugs such as those for blood pressure, heart disease and some antidepressants.

Richard Woodfield, MHRA Group Manager for Herbal Medicines, said people should consult their GP or a health care professional before taking herbal medication particularly for serious medical conditions such as obesity or erectile dysfunction. This product, adulterated with large and uncontrolled amounts of pharmaceutical substances, presents a clear risk to consumers. There is continuing evidence that some so-called ‘herbal’ products on the UK and international markets are nothing of the kind. Often, such marketing claims about the supposed natural ingredients in these unlicensed products are simply an attempt to divert the consumer’s attention away from very low manufacturing and ethical standards.”

Source: [email protected]

Counterfeit drug dealers jailed.

Medicine counterfeiting has rightly continued to feature in both the mainstream press and various new media sites. The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM) featured a couple of recent stories that they published on the news section of their website (8 June 2009). These reports highlight the prevalence of counterfeit drugs and the danger they pose to European patients. However, it is encouraging to see how the problem is being taken seriously, resulting in some high profile arrests.

German authorities shut down fake Viagra ring
Following a month-long probe that resulted in raids in five cities, German customs authorities have shut down a criminal gang selling millions of counterfeit male impotency pills online from India and other Asian countries. The multi-agency operation discovered a stockpile of 46,000 pills ready for mail order distribution. Seven people were detained in the raids, with four since remanded in custody.

Counterfeiter jailed for 2 years
The EAASM applauds the work of the MHRA in the arrest and subsequent prosecution of a website owner selling counterfeit drugs via his site, generating a turnover of £6.1m in just three years – and a profit of £3.4m.

It is also encouraging to read Judge Taylor’s statement, which resonates strongly with the EAASM’s position: “In my judgment there is little difference between those who sell large quantities of unlicensed drugs and those who sell counterfeit drugs”, is hopeful that this case will set a legal precedent, easing the prosecution of many similar criminals regardless of where these websites are hosted.

Sex, relationships and cancer

Macmillan Cancer Support is launching a new campaign “Sex, relationships and cancer” to raise awareness among health professionals and people affected by cancer of how cancer and its treatment affect sexual relationships.

Many people who have undergone cancer treatment find it can have a lasting and distressing impact on their relationships. The surgery or treatment received for certain types of cancer can make it physically difficult to have sex, or leave confidence shattered and body image low. This can lead to patients and their partners experiencing feelings of guilt and rejection and make communication difficult.

For more information, click here to continue to the Macmillan website.

Click here to see our booklet (PDF 947KB)

Many over–45s ‘ignore STI risks’

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain polled over 2,000 adults and found that nearly a fifth of those polled aged 45 to 54 said they had had unprotected sex with someone other than a long-term partner in the past five years. There is a misconception that their risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is “next to nothing”. Not surprisingly STI rates have been increasing among people over 45.

Full story: BBC News

Sexually transmitted infections have doubled in under a decade in people over 45 as they are no respecters of age

Sexually transmitted infections have doubled in under a decade in people over 45 and are now rising faster than in the young, research suggests.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) study said internet dating and erectile dysfunction drugs were partly to blame.

Men were most likely to be affected, with increases in herpes, syphilis, gonorrhoea and genital warts.

Full story: BBC News