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Landmark Patent Case Lost by Novartis in India Landmark Patent Case Lost by Novartis in India

April 1, 2013- On Monday, the Supreme Court in India ruled against Novartis the Swiss pharmaceutical maker, in a landmark ruling that will have significant implications for the generic drugs industry of India.

The generic drugs industry in India is huge and the decision means millions of people in developing countries can now be rest assured that their generic drugs from India would be arriving, said a lawyer representing the generic drug industry.

Around the world, over 10 million people live with HIV-AIDS and rely on the generic medicine they receive from India. The fate of their medications was in the hands of the court that ruled in their favor. The case pitted the Swiss pharmaceutical giant against the patenting system of the Indian government.

Ranjit Shahani, the president of Novartis India, said the court’s decision had been a setback for patients since it would hurt progress in the development of new and different treatments for illnesses that lack them now. He added that it creates a cold climate for the multinational companies who might be thinking about investing in India, since it call into question the respect for intellectual property in the country.

This case was fought for eight years through the court system of India and centered on Glivec the cancer drug for which the Swiss company had been seeking a patent in India. The patent was denied by the patent office in India in 2006, saying the drug was not a new medicine, but a salt formation of an existing drug.

The decision was then taken to court by Novartis and lost on appeal twice. The company, said judges, had not shown that the drug would work better than the one that was already patented and that was the standard Novartis needed to meet under the very stringent law of patents in India.

The Novartis version costs as much as $2,200 per month for each patient, while the generic version only costs $170 per month.

Eye Infection Nearly Causes Blindness Eye Infection Nearly Causes Blindness

March 31, 2013- Ashley Hyde, an 18-year old student contracted acanthamoeba infection in her eye, after she failed to regularly change her contact lenses. Her doctors were forced to drill into the student’s eye and scrap off part of it to see what was causing the infection. The high school student from Florida is lucky she did not lose her vision after a parasite was able to grow on one of her contacts and then eat through her eye.

At first doctors were mystified as to what had caused the student from Pembroke Pines to have inflammation in the eye and blurred vision. Her eye was always red and throbbing with pain, the student told her doctors

The doctors therefore had to drill into the young student’s eye and take out scrapings from her eyeball. With those scrapings, the doctors were able to discover a microscopic parasite, which is found in soil and water and was able to attach itself to her lens and then spread across it.

Multiple cultures were done when the doctors scraped her eye.

Doctors said Hyde would have months of treatment, which they hope will clear her condition completely. The doctors said it should be a lesson for everyone that changing lenses each day is a priority. The medical experts added that they see on a daily basis people visiting their clinics with infections, ulcers and other complications that are all related to wearing contacts.

They warned that each one of the conditions is potentially blinding. Making sure the lenses are taken out each night, washed and disinfected will assure users that parasites, other particles or diseases will not affect the wearer’s vision.

Gene Markers Found for Cancer Risk Gene Markers Found for Cancer Risk

March 28, 2013 - A huge effort that involved over 100 institutions worldwide and genetic testing on over 200,000 people uncovered a number of signposts of DNA that could help to reveal additional risk for a person for ovarian, prostate or breast cancer scientists reported on Wednesday.

This is the latest collaboration on a huge scale to learn even more about the many intricate mechanisms that lead to the development of cancer.

While the discovery might seem significant in a number of ways, the long term potential payoff for the ordinary person is that someday a genetic test might exist that help identify a woman that would benefit the most if she had a mammogram or men who would benefit more than others from prostate biopsies or PSA tests.

Doctors and scientists said the discovery added one more piece to the big puzzle and possibly further down the road the same genetic clues could lead to newer and more effective treatments.

One of the analysis suggested that amongst men whose family history has them at a 20% risk for their life time of prostate cancer, the new markers could help to identify those whose lifetime risk could be as high as 60%.

These markers could also prove to make a huge difference for women that have the mutation in their BRCA gene, which places them in a higher risk category for developing breast cancer. Researchers one day might be able to separate the people with a risk during the lifetime of 80% those women whose risk is only 20 to 50%.

Scientists have located these same risk markers before, but this new finding doubles the known list. The new discoveries also give clues about the underpinnings biologically with the cancers, which could prove handy to help develop better therapies.

Woman develops bone disease and loses teeth from too much Tea drinking Woman develops bone disease and loses teeth from too much Tea drinking

March 22, 2013 - A woman from the U.S., who drank an average of 110 tea bags per day of tea, was diagnosed with a bone disease that is very rare and lost all of her teeth.

The woman from Michigan is 47-years of age and she developed the bone disease skeletal fluorosis. That disease develops after someone consumes far too much fluoride. The woman drank a pitcher full of tea made from 100 tea bags on a daily basis for 17 years. After she developed stiffness in her arms, legs and hips while having back stiffness she visited physician. The woman’s teeth also become very brittle and dentists were required to remove all of her teeth.

X-rays showed the woman had areas of in her bones that were abnormally dense in spinal vertebrae and her arm ligaments had calcifications. Doctors tested the fluoride level of the woman and it was close to 4 times higher than for a normal person.

Skeletal fluorosis is very rare in both the U.S. and the UK, but in certain parts of the world, it is at an endemic level where there are naturally high fluoride levels in water such as in China and India.

In both the U.S. and UK, low levels of fluoride are added to the water because the mineral, in quantities that are small, strengthens teeth and help to prevent cavities.

However, there is fluoride in both water and tea, which means the woman from Detroit consumer higher quantities than were safe. The recommended amount to be in water is only 4mg per liter but the woman consumed over 20 mg per day of fluoride.

The woman was referred to Henry Ford Hospital because it was thought she might have cancer because the condition looks similar to cancer on an x-ray. However, doctors at the hospital recognized the woman’s condition was skeletal fluorosis.

Doctors said she could make a complete recovery if she lowers her level of tea drinking.


Fears over Vaccine for HPV Continue to Grow Fears over Vaccine for HPV Continue to Grow

March 18, 2013 - More and more parents with girls who are teenagers and not completely vaccinated against HPV – human papillomavirus are planning to forgo the vaccine completely. This trend has been driven by safety concerns over the vaccine, suggests new research.

This is despite a number of studies that have showed the vaccine is not tied to serious side effects and protects against HPV that causes cervical cancer, said researchers.

One vaccine researcher said there were a number of sensationalized reports of girls developing bad reactions to the HPV vaccine. The researcher continued by saying that safety concerns generally top the list as a reason people do not get certain vaccinations. However, she said it was unfortunate since this vaccine is one of the most studied in terms of its safety and it is extremely safe.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control has recommended that both girls and boys in their preteens received three shots for HPV.

The most recent data was compiled using over 100,000 phone interviews to parents in Oklahoma City for the national immunization survey. The researchers found that between 2008 and 2010, up to date vaccinations for teenagers including Tdap (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus), MCV4 (meningococcal) and the HPV vaccine has increased just slightly.

However, close to 75% of girls between the ages of 13 and 17 still had not be brought up to date with HPV vaccines in 2010. In addition, percentage of parents who said they were not planning to have their daughters vaccinated with the rest  of with any HPV shots increased from 40% to more than 44%.

The percentage of parents who cited concerns for safety as their main reason for not having their children vaccinated rose from less than 5% to over 16%.

Other reasons parents cited for not having any all of the three vaccines ranged from thinking they were not necessary to not having a specific one recommended by their doctor, as well as not thinking it was needed because their child was not sexually active.

New Device Maintains Liver alive while Outside Human Body New Device Maintains Liver alive while Outside Human Body

March 16, 2013- A human liver that was donated has been maintained warm, alive and functioning outside the human body on a new machine and then transplanted successfully into a patient in a first for the medical world.

A team of British doctors, surgeons and engineers announced the achievement Friday and said it was possible this could become commonplace in other hospitals throughout the developed world over the next few years. That would more than double the number of donor livers available to be transplanted. Thus far, this procedure has taken place with two patients on the waiting list for liver transplants in Britain. Both of the patients have made excellent recoveries said the medical team.

At this time, livers that are destined to be used for transplant are put on ice, which cools them so their metabolism is slowed down, but does not maintain them functioning as if they were inside the human body.

This type of system has been around for many decades, but often times leads to livers that are damaged and some rendered unfit for transplant in the patients who need them. Liver surgeons said keeping the livers on ice more than 14 hour is risky, even though they have lasted on ice for up to 20 hours.

In the United States and Europe, nearly 13,000 livers are transplanted each year, but the waiting list between the two regions is over 30,000 people who need a new one.

The new technology was designed by Constantin Coussios, a biomedical engineering professor at Oxford University in England and Peter Friend the Oxford Transplant Center director. It preserves the liver by maintaining it at body temperature and supplies it with red blood cells that are oxygenated so it stays alive.

Coussios said the device is the first device that is fully automated for liver perfusion. A liver can be kept functioning as if it were inside a person with the circulation of blood throughout its capillaries with bile being produced for as long as 24 hours or possibly longer.


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