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What’s on RNZ News at midday – Nov 15

PHARMAC has backed down on a controversial drug brand switch affecting patients with epilepsy and mental health conditions after three people died following the change; and the busy Mt Eden Train Station will be closed for about four years to allow for work on Auckland's City Rail Link.

1.PHARMAC has backed down on a controversial drug brand switch affecting patients with epilepsy and mental health conditions after three people died following the change. The drug buying agency said today it would widen access to the Lamictal and Arrow brands of the medicine Lamotrigine, which PHARMAC stopped funding on 1 October other than in exceptional circumstances.

2.The busy Mt Eden Train Station will be closed for about four years to allow for work on Auckland's City Rail Link. Construction on the country's largest transport infrastructure project will ramp up from the start of 2020, with Aucklanders told to expect widespread disruption over the next few years.

3.A 16-year-old boy remains in serious condition under police guard in hospital after opening fire at a high school in Santa Clarita, North of Los Angeles. Two students were killed in the attack and several others were injured.  

4.The owner of the Gun City chain of stores says soft sentencing made New Zealand an attractive target for the Christchurch mosque attack. David Tipple was speaking to MPs at Parliament this morning, arguing against the second tranche of gun legislation which includes a gun register and tighter licensing.  

5.New figures reveal one in five New Zealand adults are now drinking at dangerous levels. An annual health ministry survey shows men are twice as likely and Maori more than one and a half times as likely to be hazardous drinkers. 

6.Farmers are brittle that a Government Minister’s description of them as rednecks. Mike Butterick of the lobby group 50 Shades of Green says hundreds of farmers marched on Parliament yesterday because they are fed up with not being listened to.

7.A Kurdish writer Behrouz Boochani will not seek asylum here for now but will look at it later as a possibility. Boochani has been welcomed to Christchurch after being granted a visitors visa to attend a literary festival in the city.      

8.A campaign group for people who have suffered complications from surgical mesh, says they want immediate action now victims have had their say. The Health Ministry has heard from about 600 victims at forums around the country.      

9.Syphilis is on the rise in this country. The number of cases has soared by 85 percent in the past six-years. In the year to the end of March, 548 cases of the sexually transmitted disease were reported up from 82 in 2013. 

10. A nurse who was bullied at Waikato Hosptial’s neonatal unit says the quality of patient care suffered because of it. RNZ reported this week that there have been three investigations into bullying at the Counties Manukau neonatal unit since last year.

11.Blood likely to have come from Amber-Rose Rush was found in Venod Skantha's car, on his shoes and on items recovered from his former girlfriend's home after the teenager's death.The 32-year-old former Dunedin doctor denies murdering the 16-year-old in February last year.

12.A new report warns Australia is entering a new era of catastrophic fires and extreme weather fueled by climate change. Raging bush fires in NSW and Queensland have killed four people and destroyed more than 200 homes. 

13.The assistant director general of WA's Department of Communities  Paul Whyte has been charged with allegedly stealing more than $2.5 million of public money in what could prove to be one of Australia's most serious cases of public sector corruption.

14. An international investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on Thursday released a series of phone intercepts, including one between a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin and pro-Russian rebels accused in the crash.
 

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