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Medicine

Submission + - Indian pharmaceutical Cipla slashes cancer drug prices by 76% (yahoo.com)

suraj.sun writes: Indian generic drug company Cipla said Friday it had slashed by up to 76 percent prices of three anti-cancer medicines in what it called a "humanitarian" move and promised to cut the costs of more products. There are 2.5 million cases of cancer diagnosed in India each year, according to the World Health Organisation, with most patients receiving inadequate treatment as drugs are priced beyond their reach. "Business is business, but it has to be linked with one's social responsibilities. This initiative of price reduction is a humanitarian approach by Cipla to support cancer patients," company chairman Y.K. Hamied said. The family-led company first hit headlines in 2001 when it offered to supply life-saving triple therapy AIDS drug cocktails at prices sharply below those of multinational firms with Hamied saying the move was for "social reasons". Cipla has been pushing the Indian government to allow widespread use of so-called "compulsory licences" for production of life-saving patented drugs to overcome barriers for people in accessing affordable medicines. Compulsory licences are allowed under the World Trade Organization's TRIPS Agreement, which governs trade and intellectual property rules. Analysts said Cipla's move could prompt a price war in the 15-billion-rupee Indian drug market — challenging multinationals which sell costly patented medicine and Indian firms whose generic range is less expensive but not as cheap as Cipla's.
Medicine

Submission + - Indian Govt uses special powers to slash cancer drug price by 97% (indiatimes.com) 1

suraj.sun writes: In a landmark decision( http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Govt-uses-special-powers-to-slash-cancer-drug-price-by-97/articleshow/12240143.cms ) that could set a precedent on how life-saving drugs under patents can be made affordable, the government has allowed a domestic company, Natco Pharma, to manufacture a copycat version of Bayer's patented anti-cancer drug, Nexavar, bringing down its price by 97%.

In the first-ever case of compulsory licencing approval, the Indian Patent Office on Monday cleared the application of Hyderabad's Natco Pharma to sell generic drug Nexavar, used for renal and liver cancer, at Rs 8,880 (around $175) for a 120-capsule pack for a month's therapy. Bayer offers it for over Rs 2.8 lakh (roughly $5,500) per 120 capsule. The order provides hope for patients who cannot afford these drugs. The approval paves the way for the launch of Natco's drug in the market, a company official told TOI, adding that it will pay a 6% royalty on net sales every quarter to Bayer. The licence will be valid till such time the drug's patent is valid, i.e. 2020.

Medicine

Submission + - Scientists aim to 'print' human skin (cnn.com)

suraj.sun writes: Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, inspired by standard inkjet printers found in many home offices, are developing a specialized skin "printing" system that could be used in the future to treat soldiers wounded on the battlefield.

"We started out by taking a typical desktop inkjet cartridge. Instead of ink we use cells, which are placed in the cartridge," said Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the institute. The device could be used to rebuild damaged or burned skin.

Other universities, including Cornell University and the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, are working on similar projects and will speak on the topic on Sunday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington. These university researchers say organs — not just skin — could be printed using similar techniques.

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2011/TECH/innovation/02/19/bioprinting.wounded.soldiers/index.html

Medicine

Submission + - Researchers: AIDS virus can hide in bone marrow (google.com)

suraj.sun writes: The virus that causes AIDS can hide in the bone marrow, avoiding drugs and later awakening to cause illness, according to new research that could point the way toward better treatments for the disease.

Dr. Kathleen Collins of the University of Michigan and her colleagues report in this week's edition of the journal Nature Medicine that the HIV virus can infect long-lived bone marrow cells that eventually convert into blood cells.

The virus is dormant in the bone marrow cells, she said, but when those progenitor cells develop into blood cells, it can be reactivated and cause renewed infection. The virus kills the new blood cells and then moves on to infect other cells, said.

In recent years, drugs have reduced AIDS deaths sharply, but patients need to keep taking the medicines for life or the infection comes back, Dr. Collins said.

AP: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jIzw5TNPc3bTHfHDOrmqk5VNd9rgD9E9UL400

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