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Weekly News Round-Up: Pharmacies, drugs and Prince Charles

Pharmacy charged NHS £89 for cod liver oil it could have got for £3

Dozens of Lloyds pharmacies dispensed packs of the tablets that cost £89 instead of a £3 option, taking advantage of a loophole in NHS rules which allows chemists to bill the taxpayer for whatever a product costs.

The Telegraph has been running an investigation into NHS pricing, and discovered that the health service was paying hugely inflated prices for common products such as cod liver oil and evening primrose oil rich in vitamin E.

According to data released by the NHS Business Services Authority under the Freedom of Information Act, in February, of the 67 pharmacies listed, 50 prescribing Ennogen capsules were Lloyds Pharmacy. In March, of the 71 pharmacies listed, 54 of the contractors were Lloyds Pharmacy. Read more

Holly Watt | The Daily Telegraph | 16th August 2013

Prince Charles is one meddling heir

Republicans are fond of describing Prince Charles as one of their chief assets.

They are right to do so. Reports that members of his staff have been working full-time in Whitehall – in departments in which the Prince has an express interest – have angered ministers and again raised the question of whether the Prince has any proper understanding of his constitutional position and the limits this imposes on interference in politics. The fact that it follows on from reports of a sharp increase in the number of private meetings between the Prince and ministers can only fuel suspicions in people’s minds that the heir to the throne is an obsessive meddler.

The Prince certainly has form here. He was embarrassed – or should have been – when freedom-of-information requests a few years ago revealed the extent of his private correspondence with ministers in Gordon Brown’s cabinet on matters ranging from hospital design to the housing supply. There soon followed a storm over the Prince’s intervention with the Emir of Qatar, which resulted in the Qataris blocking Richard Rogers’s redevelopment of the Chelsea Barracks in London, a pyrrhic victory that prompted several leading architects to sign an open letter accusing the Prince of abusing his position. Read more

Editorial  | The Independent | 18th August 2013

Black people twice as likely to be charged with drugs possession – report

Study by Release and LSE argues that drug stop-and-search operations are extending racial inequality in justice system.

Black people are not just significantly more likely to be searched by police for drugs than their white peers, but face almost double the chance of being charged if any are found, according to a study of racial disparities in the way drug laws are enforced.

The report, which analysed Home Office data in conjunction with freedom of information responses from police forces in England and Wales, also uncovered what the authors call a “postcode lottery” in the apparent racial basis for drug policing. While black people were just over six times more likely to be searched for drugs nationally, this was significantly higher in some places. In one police area, Dorset, the differential was 17 times. Read more

Peter Walker | The Guardian | 21st August 2013

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