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PR and Med Ed news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news affecting the industry.

Healthy eating advice 'overload'

Half of British adults are fed up with being told what to eat by "do-good" campaigners, a survey suggests. Consumer research company Mintel found the barrage of healthy eating information is also leading to confusion among the public. More than two-thirds of the 988 adults questioned said it is hard to know which foods are healthy as expert advice keeps changing. A similar number said labelling did not help with selecting healthier options. Three out of five said it was difficult to work out if foods were healthy from the labels or information on food packets.

Pharma covers up

Pharmaceutical companies in Britain are covering up the discovery of fake versions of their products and contributing to thousands of deaths across the world, an investigation into counterfeit drugs has found. Fake versions of antibiotics, antimalarials and lifestyle drugs such as slimming and sex aids are flooding the market in some countries but manufacturers of the genuine medicines are reluctant to publicise the problem for fear of harming sales of their branded products, doctors say. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that fake drugs account for more than 10 per cent of the global medicines market.

Tesco rebuffs labels

Tesco, the UK's biggest supermarket, is turning its back on traffic-light food labels which indicate sugar, salt and fat in products, it has announced. The government-backed scheme has been widely resisted by the food industry, despite research suggesting shoppers would welcome the system. The Food Standards Agency believes the labels would make it easier for shoppers to understand labels. But Tesco says it is opting for an alternative "signposting" system. The supermarket said the decision followed its own pilot scheme, using the traffic light system, which showed customers were confused about how to treat an amber light.

Specialists rethink advice

Cancer specialists around the world are rethinking their advice to cover up in the sun amid growing concern that staying in the shade may be causing harm. Australia is revising its warnings about the risks of sun exposure because of fears about vitamin D deficiency, which increases the risk of a range of diseases from cancer to osteoporosis, in what public health doctors have described as a "revolution". The British charity Cancer Research UK has launched its annual SunSmart campaign highlighting the dangers of too much sun. But in Australia health experts warn that some people are getting too little.

2nd September 2008

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