News and Notes

Compiled by Peter Miller, Jean O'Reilly and Molly Jarvis


DRUG AND ALCOHOL FINDINGS CELEBRATES 10 YEARS

For ten years, Drug and Alcohol Findings has been collecting, analysing and disseminating evaluation research and is now the custodian of the largest working drug and alcohol library in Britain. Drug and Alcohol Findings was a coming together of Britain's leading addiction research base at the National Addiction Centre and the two national representative bodies for alcohol and drug services respectively: Alcohol Concern, and what was then the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse (SCODA). Mike Ashton, who had spent two decades at the Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence (ISDD), became the project's editor. ISDD later merged with SCODA to form DrugScope, but apart from that, the partnership has remained the same.

The project's focus was on the production of the world's first magazine for drug and alcohol practitioners devoted to bringing them the fruits of international research on their work, in a form they could understand and make use of. Ten years ago in 1999, the first edition was published. It remains a unique hybrid, allying scientific rigour with practitioner-friendly and practice-informed analysis and commentary. In fact the partnership believes it is and needs to be more rigorous than academic journals, because the aim is not to discuss and debate findings, but to put them into practice in ways that will affect the lives of communities, clients, patients and young people.

There was start-up funding from project partners and from Action on Addiction and the Department of Health's Substance Misuse Advisory Service, then headed by Don Lavoie, and some indirect help along the way from the National Treatment Agency. But apart from this, the magazine was self-sustaining on subscriptions until 2006, when it hit the financial buffers and turned to the J. Paul Getty Jr. Charitable Trust and later the Pilgrim Trust for support. Increasing from a few hundred keen subscribers, its analyses are now downloaded over 25 000 times per month. Past magazine content and current analyses can be searched using a newly upgraded custom-made system, and downloaded and stored as PDF files.

And what of the future? Falling by design between research and practice, funding remains a potential problem, but the commitment of the partners and the reason for the project's existence are as strong as ever, maybe more so. Above all, the project is fortified by the reactions of its practitioner users and the researchers whose work it subjects to its forensic analyses. Visit the project's web site and sign up for free bulletins on new research findings at http://findings.org.uk

WHO IDENTIFIES TWENTY FOUR RISK FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR NEARLY HALF OF ANNUAL DEATHS

The World Health Organization reports that twenty four risk factors are responsible for 44% of the estimated 60 million global deaths that occur each year and cause 34% of the loss of healthy life years worldwide [1]. The report identifies the five leading global risks for mortality as high blood pressure, which is responsible for 12.8% of all deaths globally; tobacco use (8.7%); high blood glucose (5.8%); physical inactivity (5.5%), and overweight and obesity (5%). Another key global risk factor for readers of this journal is alcohol use, which is responsible for 3.8% of all deaths. The study says that most risk factors are associated with more than one disease and adds that targeting those factors can reduce multiple causes of the disease.

‘A very considerable proportion of deaths in the world are preventable through modification of risk factor exposures,’ says Colin Mathers, coordinator for mortality and burden of disease at WHO [2]. The findings underscore that there are many unnecessary deaths from factors ‘that we know how to prevent,’ ranging from unsafe sex and nutritional deficiencies through to overconsumption of food, lack of exercise, and smoking which accounts for 10.8% of deaths and 5.4% of the disease burden.

UK HOUSE OF COMMONS SUPPORTS BAN ON CIGARETTE MACHINES

The UK Government has accepted an amendment to the Health Bill that supports a full ban on cigarette vending machines and removing cigarette displays in shops in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The amendment has been passed by MPs and will now go before the House of Lords. Some Conservative MPs condemned the amendment as unfair to small retailers, who were already suffering financially. But Labour health minister Gillian Merron said the ban would help to stop new generations taking up smoking, adding ‘We are of course aware of how the current economic climate is affecting small business which is why we will not commence the effect of this legislation until 2011 for larger stores and 2013 for smaller shops.’ The Scottish Parliament is considering a similar ban on vending machines and public displays of tobacco.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8303975.stm

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO FUND DRINKWISE

In answering questions in the Australian Parliament, the Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, has signalled a significant change in the relationship between the government and the alcohol industry from its Howard government predecessor. Minister Roxon declared, in answer to a written question from the Opposition, that ‘The Government does not intend to provide funding to the alcohol industry body Drinkwise’ (Hansard, 15 September 2009). The Howard government funded the alcohol industry body Drinkwise to run social marketing campaigns, and Drinkwise was in turn co-funded by drinks industry funds. A number of substantial critiques were written regarding this arrangement [1, 2], particularly because the federal government badge gave the organisation credibility as something other than an alcohol industry Social Aspect/Public Relations Organisation [3]. In identifying Drinkwise as an alcohol industry body—counter to its claims of independence—and breaking financial ties with it, the Australian government has set an important example to other governments about the appropriateness of such relationships with an industry so often accused of protecting vested interests through bodies such as Drinkwise, Drinkaware in the UK, and the International Center for Alcohol Policies in the USA.

NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON ALCOHOL ABUSE AND ALCOHOLISM'S UNDERAGE DRINKING RESEARCH INITIATIVE

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has launched the Underage Drinking Research Initiative. This initiative is an undertaking born of the convergence of recent scientific advances and the increased public concern about the seriousness of this longstanding societal problem. The NIAAA reports that underage drinking presents an enormous public health issue. Annually, about 5,000 youth under age 21 die from motor vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries, and homicides and suicides that involve underage drinking.

As an integral tool in NIAAA's efforts to enhance the scientific understanding of underage drinking, the website set up for the initiative is designed to provide information on important new research on underage drinking, the most current national statistics, links to other federal government underage drinking prevention resources, and updates on the new Steering Committee for the initiative. For more information visit: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/AboutNIAAA/NIAAASponsoredPrograms/underage.htm

THE HIGH COST OF TREATING ALCOHOL-IMPAIRED DRIVERS

A new US study shows that even minimally injured alcohol-impaired drivers account for higher emergency department (ED) costs than other drivers [1]. The study reports that alcohol was involved in 41% of all motor vehicle crash fatalities in 2006. The economic impact of alcohol impaired driving was estimated at US$51 billion, with medical costs accounting for 15% of that figure. It is estimated that alcohol is involved in as many as one in eight motor vehicle crashes, bringing the total to 600 000 cases each year. Alcohol complicates the clinical assessment of patients within an ED as the patient's perception of pain may be blunted and a period of observation may be warranted until the patient is judged to be coherent enough for an accurate examination. The study found that the median charges for patients under the influence of alcohol were higher by $4538. A large percentage of that cost can be directly correlated to a higher frequency of diagnostic imaging studies and the rising costs of those studies. In addition, the median length of stay for alcohol-positive patients was higher by 3.3 hours when compared to alcohol-negative patients.

UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO BANS ALCOHOL ADVERTISING AND SPONSORSHIP

The Otago Daily Times reports that the University of Otago in New Zealand has placed a ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship. The university council on Tuesday approved an immediate ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship on all campuses, in university-owned or controlled buildings, and at all university-organised events. The ban, initiated by vice-chancellor Professor Sir David Skegg as a stand against New Zealand's binge-drinking culture and excessive drinking by some university students, was greeted with a largely positive reaction yesterday. However, Lion Nathan brewers are seeking urgent talks with the university regarding two contracts already in place. Lion Nathan corporate affairs director Liz Read reportedly said that while the company respected the university's right to impose the ban, it was ‘surprised and disappointed’ that the university had not consulted it first.

While industry sources claim the ban will not affect student drinking, most independent observers believed it would change student drinking behaviour over time, in tandem with other measures being taken by the university, the city council, and the police. The move stands as an important example for other universities around the world.

Source: Rudd, A. (2009) Brewer seeks urgent talks on ban. Otago Daily Times 15 October. Available at: http://www.odt.co.nz/print/78147

CATALONIA SAYS NO TO HAPPY HOUR

The BBC reports that Catalonia, which includes the city of Barcelona, has banned happy hour promotional gimmicks to help curb excessive drinking among young people. Businesses that break the ban could face fines of up to £6000 ($9000). Major elements include banning promotions such as offering two drinks for the price of one and unlimited drinks after payment of an entrance fee.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/8309552.stm

CALL FOR EFFECTIVE LAW ON ACCESS TO MEDICINES FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) are making the case in Canada for an effective law on access to medicines for patients in the developing world. Under the current system, Canada's Access to Medicine Regime (CAMR), each license to distribute drugs fulfills only one drug order from one country and involves complex and time-consuming patent negotiations. The proposed amendments will enact a ‘one license solution’ that allows a generic drug supplier to distribute to multiple eligible countries at a time, reducing red tape and facilitating economies of scale. This is just one of several proposed changes to CAMR.

For further background information, see http://www.aidslaw.ca/camr

CONFERENCES AND EVENTS

The Canadian Council for Tobacco Control's Second Annual Ottawa Conference: State of the Art Clinical Approaches to Smoking Cessation, 22–23 January 2010, Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel, Ottowa, Canada. Website: http://www.cctc.ca/event_list/tcevent.2009-10-27.3180512315

12th International Conference on Treatment of Addictive Behaviors (ICTAB-12), 7–10 February 2010, Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA). Contact: dyao@unm.edu. Website: http://casaa.unm.edu

Southeast Conference on Addictive Disorders 2010, 21–24 February 2010, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Website: http://209.196.57.200/ME2/Sites/Default.asp?SiteID=121FA692C6524EA6A7D1BB32DEE1BEFA

Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) Annual Meeting, 24–27 February 2010, Hilton Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Website: http://www.srnt.org/meeting/2010/index.html

Fourth Annual Conference of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy, 15–16 March 2010, Santa Monica, California, USA. Website: http://www.rand.org/multi/dprc/issdp2010/index.html

18th Annual Public Health Forum: Confronting the Public Health Crisis, 24–25 March 2010, Bournemouth International Centre, Bournemouth, UK. Website: http://www.ukpha.org.uk/annual-public-health-forum.aspx

Society of Behavioral Medicine 31st Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions, 7–10 April 2010, Seattle Sheraton, Seattle, Washington, USA. Website: http://www.sbm.org/meeting/2010/

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) 41st Annual Medical-Scientific Conference, 15–18 April 2010, San Francisco, California, USA. Website: http://www.asam.org/AnnualMeeting.html

Harm Reduction 2010: IHRA's 21st International Conference, 25–29 April 2010, Liverpool, England. Website: http://www.ihra.net/Liverpool/Home

National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers Annual Conference, 22–25 May 2010, La Cantera Resort, San Antonio, Texas, USA. Website: http://www.naatp.org/conferences/annualconference.php

The Society for Prevention Research (SPR) 18th Annual Meeting: Cells to Society: Prevention at All Levels, 1–4 June 2010, Denver, Colorado, USA. The International Program and the Prevention Research Branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) will host the 3rd Annual NIDA International SPR Poster Session at this event. Website: http://www.preventionresearch.org/meeting.php

Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum (CINP) 2010 World Congress, 6–10 June 2010, Hong Kong, China. Website: http://www.cinp2010.com

The College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) 72cd Annual Meeting, 12–17 June 2010, The Fairmont Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. Website: http://www.cpdd.vcu.edu/

2010 UK National Smoking Cessation Conference, 14–15 June 2010, Radisson Hotel, Glasgow, Scotland. Website: http://www.uknscc.org/index.html

4th European Alcohol Policy Conference, 16–18 June 2010, Brussels, Belgium. Website: http://www.eurocare.org/press/upcoming_events/4th_european_alcohol_policy_conference_16_18_june_2010_brussels

Translational Research in Methamphetamine Addiction Conference, 19–21 July 2010, Chico Hot Springs and Day Spa, Pray, Montana, USA. Website: http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/neurosciences/TRMA2010/

International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism (ISBRA) 2010 Congress, 13–16 September 2010, Paris, France. Website: http://www.isbra2010paris.org/

News and Notes welcomes contributions from its readers. Send your material to Peter Miller, News and Notes Editor, Addiction, National Addiction Centre PO48, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8AF. Fax +44 (0)20 7848 5966; e-mail molly@addictionjournal.org

Conference entries should be sent to Molly Jarvis atmolly@addictionjournal.org. Subject to editorial review, we will be glad to print, free of charge, details of your conference or event, up to 75 words and one entry only. Please send your notification three months before you wish the entry to appear.

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