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Showing posts from February 14, 2017

NPPA puts price cap on cardiac stents; says hospitals overcharge (downtoearth)

In a decision that will benefit thousands of people in the country, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has finally put a ceiling on prices of cardiac stent—a small mesh tube that's used to treat narrow or weak arteries. Cardiac stents are often used as part of a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), a procedure that restores blood flow through narrow or blocked arteries.

In a notification published on Tuesday, the authority set the price of bare metal stent to Rs 7,260 and drug eluting stents (DES) including metallic DES and bioresorbable vascular scaffold (BVS)/ biodegradable stents to Rs 29,600.

Earlier, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had notified the inclusion of stents in the list of essential medicine on July 19, 2016. This decision came after the Delhi High Court asked the government to take action responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Birendra Sangwan. The PIL was seeking price control of stents. The whooping prices…

Fighting rhino poaching in India, CSI-style (downtoearth)

It takes less than 20 milligrams of rhino horn to prosecute poachers. This is all scientists need to discover a rhinoceros’ unique DNA pattern, a sort of genetic fingerprint investigators can use to link criminals involved in poaching and trading of rhino horn to individual mutilated or killed rhinos.

This technique might sound like it came out of a forensic crime TV series, but it was developed and implemented by researchers in South Africa, and will soon be used in India as well, with the state of Assam playing a lead role.

South Africa currently is at the epicenter of a poaching epidemic driven by East Asian demand for rhino horn as a status symbol or a traditional medical treatment. Between 2007 and 2015, rhino poaching in South Africa increased almost 90-fold, from 13 rhinos killed in 2007 to 1,175 in 2015, according to United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) data.

In comparison, poaching of Asian rhinos currently occurs on a much smaller scale. In India’s Assam state, where t…

Civil society challenges patents on Hepatitis C drugs (downtoearth)

In a latest push to make Hepatitis C drugs affordable to millions of patients, civil society groups filed five new challenges to patents in India and Argentina. These challenges were meant to alleviate the production and distribution of affordable generic versions of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medicines, including sofosbuvir, daclatasvir and velpatasvir.

In India, the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK) together with the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) and supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), filed four cases: two patent challenges on daclatasvir, one on velpatasvir and a further challenge on sofosbuvir. Separately, in Argentina, Fundación Grupo Efecto Positivo (FGEP) filed a patent opposition on sofosbuvir with support from I-MAK.

Petitioners argue that these efforts are aimed to overturn the abusive strategies of pharmaceutical corporations like Gilead who exploit flaws in the patent system to obtain unjustified patents that block generic compe…

Pollutants invade remotest place on earth; Mariana Trench highly contaminated (downtoearth,)

Even the bottom of the ocean is not safe from human pollution. A joint study by the researchers at the James Hutton Institute and University of Aberdeen found “extraordinary” levels of contamination in the form of Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in two of the deepest trenches in the ocean—Mariana Trench in the North Pacific and Kermadec Trench in the South Pacific

The PCBs, which are created by electrical equipment and during waste incineration, were banned in 1979 as these ‘tough chemicals’ had increased cancer risk and other health issues. These persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have not only resisted degradation but also spread far and wide, reaching the Arctic and Antarctic.

During two expeditions in 2014, a team of researchers collected wildlife from these trenches. On analysing shrimplike crustaceans, called amphipods, many kinds of PCBs were detected. The most contaminated samples from the Mariana Trench—which is nearly 11 kilometres deep—had PCB concentrations 50 times gr…

Relating to that dreaded ‘F’ word (Hindu)

If the words ‘feminism’ and ‘feminist’ have a negative connotation, it is precisely because we are operating in a deeply patriarchal society

Being a feminist today is as bad as being a fan of Shah Rukh Khan in the year Ra.One was released. Constant mockery is replaced by exasperated sighs, followed by collective rolling of eyes. And finally people just pretend you’re invisible.

But the analogy ends right there. (Un)Funnily enough, Shah Rukh Khan recently said he doesn’t want to be considered “pro-feminist”. God forbid.

People steer clear of this label, not because they are Foucauldians but for two reasons. One, that they don’t seem to believe in gender equality, and two, because they are afraid of how people would react. About five years ago, during my college days as a coordinator of the women’s development cell, I had helped organise a ‘Reclaim the Night Walk’, and I am still called ‘Triple M’ (short for Mahila Mukti Morcha) by my cousins. One peep about how my cousin-sister should…

Finance and façade (Hindu)

Donald Trump’s victory is the assault of finance capital on not just social capital but also on industrial capital

Imagine a mythical planet not visited by the Little Prince. This is a planet divided up into a thousand and one sections with walls between them. There are doors in the walls, and windows of course. But there is no roof to the planet. Everyone on the planet is affected by storms that cross the skies, sometimes devastating this section, sometimes that. Sometimes the storms afflict all the sections, but in different ways: flood in one place and hail in another; cyclone on one, landslide in another.

A man-made storm

The denizens of this planet are peculiar: they are mostly unable to look up. As such, many of them cannot see signs of a gathering storm. The few who can are helpless. What can they do about storms? This is also true of the various presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and dictators who govern the different sections of this planet. Many of these leaders even bel…