Tina Ambani launches multiple cancer initiatives for Maharashtra

Aug 13, 2016 0

Mumbai–In a major boost for oncology treatment, the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH), Andheri, here will set up 18 sophisticated cancer care centres in mofussil areas, a top official said here on Saturday.

KDAH Chairperson Tina Ambani also announced the launch of Edge Radiosurgery system — a first in South Asia — to offer a precise, non-invasive alternative to conventional cancer surgery.

“The launch of Edge and 18 cancer centres in Maharashtra not only represents a significant milestone in our journey but reaffirms KDAH’s endeavour to make international innovations available and accessible to all Indians,” Tina Ambani said on the occasion.

She described cancer as “one of the biggest public health challenges of our times” which the KDAH was ready to tackle head on with its medical talent and world-class technology as part of its focus on advancing healthcare technologies and medical excellent to facilitate healthcare access in the country.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the launch of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospitals Oncology Program

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the launch of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospitals Oncology Program

Lauding the KDAH move, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said it would take the fight against cancer to the next level and the state needs many more such institutes to take the initiative in advancement in healthcare.

“The launch of Edge is important because the precision technology will not only bring down cost but also reduce the pain and trauma of the patients and their families. KDAH has become a technological milestone in the country,” Fadnavis said.

The Reliance Group’s KDAH will acquire 18 advanced TrueBeam medical linear accelerators to equip the new cancer centres in Maharashtra, the first of which are likely to be operational in Akola, Gondia and Solapur in 2017, and the rest will roll out in a couple of years.

The evolution in advanced surgery was facilitated in the presence of internationally renowned radiation oncology specialists — Dr. M. Salim U. Siddiqui from Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, USA and Prof. Carlo Greco, Managing Director and Director of Clinical Research, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon, Portugal.

The two medicos Siddiqui and Greco are in India to share their knowledge and expertise in the new technology among leading oncologists from India.

Explaining the benefits of Edge Radiosurgery, KDAH’s head of Radiation Oncology Dr. Kaustav Talapatra said its a non-invasive technique using a GPS-enabled tracking device that helps the radiologist constantly track the movement of affected cells even as treatment is being delivered, allowing treatment with a high degree of accuracy.

“This precision radiation provides huge advantages in term of convenience, cost and comfort for patients as the number of sessions reduces significantly, with no incision or hospital stay, thereby enabling them to return to their normal lives within 15-30 minutes or less,” Talapatra said.

Ashok Kakkar, Sr. MD, Varian India which is the market and technology leader in radiotherapy and radiosurgery systems, said KDAH’s plan to install 18 TrueBeam machines is the largest, one-time commitment by any single institute.

“This is a major investment program by KDAH to remain ahead of the curve in adopting latest technologies in line with the best global practises in the area of Cancer care across the state of Maharashtra,” Kakkar said.

KDAH’s Centre for Cancer deals with the widest range of cancers and brings together multidisciplinary expertise under a single roof to offer a broad scope of cancer services, public education, screening, diagnosis, treatment, pain management and palliative care.

According to National Cancer Institute, a whopping 1.25 million new cancer cases are reported every year in India, but there are only a few comprehensive cancer care centres in the country, with a majority located in the metros. (IANS)

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Japanese companies eye healthcare sector in India

Aug 10, 2016 0

New Delhi– Aiming at the huge potential that the healthcare sector in India possesses, two Japanese companies have joined hands with medical chain supplier Carna Medical to further enhance the supply of consumable and disposable products from medical suppliers across India.

During the launch of medical product catalogue, here on Wednesday, the Japanese companies — logistic provider Konoike Transport and medical equipment distributor Medius Holdings — pointed out that India is gradually becoming one of the top countries in healthcare sector and establishing itself as a hub for medical investments.

Carna“There is a vast difference in the medical field in India and Japan. India has got a huge market in healthcare sector and is rapidly growing. Our target is not just metropolitan cities but also tier-two and -three cities as well,” said Minoru Amano, CEO, Carna Medical Database to IANS during the event.

With an initial capital investment of Rs 200 million, the Japanese companies established a joint venture in India to implement Japanese technology and create and distribute medical consumable products.


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E-Pharmacy to improve accessibility, affordability of medicines in India

Jul 25, 2016 0

New Delhi–Widespread use of the internet will improve accessibility and affordability of medicines in India, said a white paper on ‘e-Pharmacy in India’ by industry chamber FICCI on Monday.

The paper notes that India is experiencing a rapid transition with the rising burden of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which currently accounts for around 60 percent of the total deaths and is due to rapid urbanisation, increased motorisation, mechanisation and sedentary lifestyle, especially among the working age groups.

According to the paper, the factors driving the demand for e-Pharmacy in India include rising number of people with unmet medical needs due to large population and increasing penetration of internet in both urban and rural India.

“With the rapidly changing consumer behavior in India, there is a huge demand for accessing a wide range of products at the click of a button, and at competitive prices,” the statement said.

According to the paper, it is expected that the e-Pharmacy model could account for 5-15 percent of the total pharma sales in India, largely by enhancing adherence and access to the medicines for a lot of under-served population.

The paper found a positive perception regarding e-pharmacy among medical practitioners as almost 90 percent of respondents perceive it as an acceptable means of sale and purchase of pharmaceutical products.

It recommended for a separate licence and registry arrangement for e-Pharmacy players and dispensation of drugs should be undertaken through the physical pharmacy, duly licensed under Part VI of the Drug Rules. (IANS)

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Cardiologist suggests fat tax to combat obesity

Jul 20, 2016 0

New Delhi–A fat tax on high-calorie foods to encourage healthier lifestyle choices needs to be enforced universally on all foods containing trans fats rather than partially on fast foods, a leading cardiologist has suggested.

“Without universal application such laws would only reinstate the belief that only certain foods are unhealthy and this would not help in bringing down obesity,” Dr (Col) Anil Dhall, Director of Cardiovascular Sciences at Venkateshwar Hospital here, told IANS.

Anil Dhall

Anil Dhall

Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fats that are uncommon in nature but since the 1950s have been commonly industrially produced from vegetable fats for use in margarine, snack food, packaged baked goods and frying fast food.

The Kerala government recently said it was mulling a 14.5 per cent fat tax on pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and tacos sold through branded outlets. The move has been hailed as an important decision towards public health — coming as it does in the wake of WHO’s advocacy of using fiscal methods to curb obesity.

Other states in the country were also understood to be pondering similar cess after concerns were raised about increasing obesity which fuels lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart ailments and hypertension.

But, is it the right way to go, wonders Dhall, pointing out that with 39 per cent of adults worldwide being overweight — and 13 per cent being obese, involvement of the government in leading people into living a healthy lifestyle was not something new.

Responding to the growing obesity crisis, Japan was the first to implement the “metabo law” that requires men and women above 45 years of age to undergo an annual waist measurement. On failure to meet the required size, the person has to undergo counselling and consult a doctor. The law, that went into effect in 2008, has helped Japan cut back on obesity by 3.5 per cent.

Subsequently, Denmark, in 2011, imposed a special tax on food items such as butter, milk, meat, cheese and oil containing more than 2.3 per cent fat. That same year, Hungary levied a tax on foods high in sugar and salt. And last year, Philadelphia became the first city in the US to impose a “soda tax” on sugary beverages.

But implementation has been plagued by problems. Denmark, for instance, rolled back its fat tax in 15 months, after people started bypassing it by buying from across the border.

Mexico levied a tax on sugar sweetened beverages two years ago. But after an initial dip, the sales figures are back to original levels.

Dhall stressed the need to be clear as to what is being targetted as a result of such legislation.

“Are we targetting obesity, which is a risk factor for heart disease, or do we want to bring down the atherosclerotic risk,” he wondered, pointing out that India was the global leader in cases of diabetes mellitus, thin-fat metabolism and atherosclerotic coronary heart disease.

Kerala itself has a large number of diabetics and obesity is also a significant concern. Right now, 28.1 per cent of women and 17.8 per cent of men in the state are either overweight or obese, putting Kerala a close second to India’s most obese state Punjab, where 29.9 per cent of women and 18.2 per cent of men are either overweight or obese.

Dhall averred that if we are to target the population risk, we have to curb carbohydrates excess as well. “We all notice a recent sharp increase in sweetened beverage consumption,” he pointed out.

Fast food, also known as junk food, is considered unhealthy since in many cases it is highly processed, containing large amount of sodium, carbohydrates and trans fats. “The food is mainly empty calories with no nutrition,” the cardiologist noted.

However, in the process of demonising fast foods and blaming them for the increasing obesity and decreasing public health, we don’t realise that trans fats, which are largely responsible for the increased atherosclerotic risk, are also present in the everyday Indian snacks that we eat, Dhall pointed out.

From samosas to deep-fried pakodas which are easily available for less than Rs 10 at every street corner and even in locally-branded outlets — they all contain trans fats, he said.

They are prepared in industrially-processed vegetable oils which are largely used to fry snacks at the local food vendors. Also, when these oils are heated repeatedly above their smoking point, they lose their integrity and break into a smaller compound which harms our health.

Trans fats raise our bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower the good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases our risk of developing heart disease and stroke, and of developing type 2 diabetes.

Making international cuisine provider food more expensive may be easy but is not really relevant to the bulk of the population. Our Indian snacks which are more widely consumed and are a lot cheaper than conventional fast foods are equally unhealthy, Dhall said.

The unregulated neighbourhood halwai often uses 30 per cent trans fats as compared to the permissible one per cent. Still, there has been neither any regulation on them nor any awareness campaign against it.

This can also be attributed to the fact that most of the studies that have been carried out in the field of dietary fats have been Western where the main source of trans fats are fast foods, said Dhall.

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Indian healthcare firm picks majority stake in Turkish firm for $5.5 million

Jul 13, 2016 0

Bengaluru– Leading Indian medical devices major Trivitron Healthcare Ltd has acquired majority stake in a Turkish healthcare firm for 5 million euros (Rs 37 crore), the Chennai-based company said on Wednesday.

“We have invested five-million euros ($5.5 million) to buy 60 per cent equity stake in Turkish firm Bome Sanayi Urunleri Dis Tic Ltd, whose promoters will retain 40 per cent post-acquisition,” said Trivitron chairman G.S.K. Velu in a statement here.

G.S.K. Velu

G.S.K. Velu

Bome’s three promoters, include its founder Mehmet Demirel, chief executive Gulsah Sonmez and co-founder Zeynep Demirel. They had 55 per cent and 20 per cent each equity stake in their company before the acquisition.

The Turkish firm reported sales turnover of 22 million Turkish lira ($7.6 million) in calendar year 2015.

The 19-year-old and Rs 700-crore Trivitron makes medical devices and delivers cost-effective services to the underserved through inorganic synergies with local and global firms. It exports its various products to 165 countries, worldwide.

As the Ankara-based Bome is a leading maker of in-vitro diagnostic device, the acquisition will give Trivitron access to markets in Turkey, Middle East (Gulf), Africa and South East Asia and its production facility, research labs and a newly set up screening laboratory.

“Bome has 100 per cent market share in new born screening tests in Turkey, as it screens 1.8 million babies and 10 million tests per year,” Velu said on the occasion.

With nine manufacturing units in India, Finland and Turkey, Trivitron expects to grow significantly in the region, as its products are marketed under brand name Trimaris and exported to Egypt, Iraq, Kenya, Portugal, Syria and Sudan.

“The buyout brings in growth capital and distribution network for Bome, which has been in diagnostics since 1989 and conducting new born screening tests in the past eight years for the Turkish government,” Velu recalled in the statement.

With manufacturing units at Ostim and Ankara in Turkey and labs in Ankara and Istanbul, Bome’s production lines include new born screening tests, haematology solutions, clinical chemistry reagents, rapid urea tests, coagulation reagents and sterile & non-sterile deionized water.

The buyout will also help Trivitron gain expertise on running low-cost new born screening programmes, which India is yet to launch in public-private partnership mode.

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Shire brings new hemophilia treatment to India

Jul 12, 2016 0

New Delhi–Hemophilia patients in India can now have more treatment options as global biotechnology major Shire on Tuesday announced that doctors in India can now prescribe ADVATE, a widely used treatment for Hemophilia A, also called Factor VIII (FVIII) deficiency in which blood does not clot normally.

ADVATE came to Shire as part of the acquisition of US-based rare disease specialist Baxalta last month.

“We are committed to the advancement of hemophilia treatments and elevating the standard of care for hemophilia patients in India because we know that many of them out there are not diagnosed, let alone treated,” said Vineet Singhal, Country Head, Baxalta Biosciences India.

“Striving toward a goal of zero bleeds, we are able to bring innovative third generation treatments like ADVATE to patients in India and help them achieve better outcomes in managing their bleeding conditions,” Singhal noted.

In India today, there are about 16,000 hemophilia patients but the actual number could be seven times more due to low awareness, diagnosis and treatment, Shire said in a statement.

“ADVATE was approved in the US in July 2003 and has a proven safety and efficacy profile with over 13 years of real-world patient experience data. It is the world’s most widely used FVIII treatment to date,” the statement added.

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Coronary artery disease up by 300 percent in India

Jul 2, 2016 0

Bengaluru– Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) spiked by 300 percent among Indians in the past three decades, with two to six percent of the affected people living in rural India and four to 12 percent in urban India, said a leading cardiologist on Saturday.

“Indians have the highest mortality and morbidity rates from CAD as compared to any other ethnic group,” said Thomas Alexander at the inaugural ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) India 2016 Conference.

“It is now projected that the number of Indians with CAD is above 60 million of which 23 million is below the age of 40 and 10 million younger than 30,” he said.

Though CAD is one of the most challenging emergencies, he said if treated promptly and appropriately, significant death and disability can be reduced.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), CAD is projected to claim 2.9 million lives annually, out of which one million are expected to be below 40 in the future.

STEMI is a non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing heart attack care in India which will focus on managing STEMI at its two-day workshop scheduled from July 2-3.

Some other leading doctors participating in the workshop include Ajit S. Mullasari, Director of Cardiology, The Madras Medical Mission, C.N. Manjunath, Director, Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences & Research, S.S. Iyengar, Consultant and Academic Head, Department of Cardiology, Manipal Hospital, and P. Ranganath Nayak, Medical Director and Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru.

Ajit S. Mullasari

Ajit S. Mullasari

About the workshop, Mullasari said the deliberations aim to bring the latest knowledge in the management of STEMI to India.

“The faculty – international and national – are leaders in heart attack management. This day and a half programme provides a comprehensive review and training to the medical team involved in the processes and procedures in the care of the heart attack patient,” said Mullasari.

Manjunath said one of main aims of the workshop also to develop a heart attack management programme in Karnataka, and as many as 750 delegates from south India will be trained various aspect of heart attack care there. (IANS)

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New code system to check spurious medicines in India

Jun 24, 2016 0

By Anand Singh and Rupesh Dutta

New Delhi– Counterfeiters are lurking in the dark and there’s no guarantee that the medicines sold from the drug stores across India are all genuine. A consumer cannot tell whether the pharma product wrapped in sleek packaging isn’t fake.

India is yet to adopt international solutions which are necessary to authenticate medicines and pharmaceutical products that millions of people depend on to combat health conditions. Unlike Pakistan, India doesn’t have a system with which the consumer can check whether a medicine is genuine.

“The counterfeiters here are successful because we are not making their task difficult and not making this business less profitable for them,” U.K Gupta, President of Authentication Solutions Providers Association, told IANS.

“The counterfeiters can pursue their business because of non-adoption of authentication solutions, inadequate surveillance efforts by brand owners to identify counterfeit products and lack of consumer awareness,” he said.

According to Gupta, the product packaging is easily copied due to availability of packaging raw materials in the neighbouring countries.

So what needs to be done?

“We already have a barcode system to check the authenticity of medicines that are exported. Through this system we can keep at bay all types of spurious and fake medicines,” Drug Controller General of India G.N. Singh told IANS.

“However, we do not have any system to check the medicines that come to India and the medicines that are sold in India,” he added.

But it’s a different scene in Pakistan where the Drug Regulatory Authority introduced the global unique identification code system to counter the sale of spurious drugs and over-pricing. Under the new system, buyers having smartphones can verify a medicine and its price.

Can such a system be implemented in India?

Singh said: “The process has already been initiated and within a couple of months we will have a code system like Pakistan to check the spurious medicines”.

“Documents and the entire plan is with the ministry and they are examining it. This will be a technology-driven system.”

A large part of the procedure will involve oversight, testing, tracking and analysis of practices.

“Adopting authentication solutions is the most important preventive step. The government and brand owners should communicate to the consumers about the authentication features on their product and the means to verify those features,” Gupta said.

“Hologram is the best tool. These days we have interactive and 3D hologram as well,” he added.

“The interactive hologram can be verified by a device which tells the consumers about its authenticity. The consumer can check the details of this product by physical verification such as visual checking,” Gupta said.

“Even a consumer can verify product details from a company’s website or by digital authentication of products with features such as barcodes or unique SMS verification codes,” he added.

A 2014 ASSOCHAM report titled ‘Fake and Counterfeit Drugs In India-Booming Biz’ stated that around 25 per cent of India’s drugs are fake, counterfeit or substandard. The fake drugs market is likely to cross US$ 10-billion mark by 2017.

ASSOCHAM had suggested that the government must make it a mandatory for all branded medicines to feature a tracing and tracking mechanism.

“The only step required is a strong regulatory oversight with proper testing procedures, and a robust tracing and tracking mechanism. We also must have a centralised depository to analyse the good manufacturing and distribution practices,” Bejon Misra, former Chairman of Consumer Coordination Council, told IANS.

However, Misra said the “biggest challenge is the lack of trained persons in the state drug regulatory authorities” to curb the menace of fake pharma products.

Expressing a similar view, Anil Bansal, former Chairman of Anti Quackery Cell of the Delhi Medical Council, said: “The government should enforce the Pharmacy Act strictly so that the chemists cannot sell any medicine without a doctor’s prescription. But it seems that the government is not seriously concerned about the health of the people.”

According to a World Health Organisation report, every year about one million people die globally due to spurious drugs. Keeping that in mind, India must not lag behind in taking stringent measures to stamp out the counterfeit drugs. Authentication solutions would be a step forward.

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Indian and US firms to launch air medical services in India

Jun 13, 2016 0

Bengaluru–City-based Aviator Air Rescue on Monday announced it has teamed up with leading American air medical services company Air Medical Group Holdings and Airbus Helicopters to provide Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS).

“With the support of Airbus Helicopters and Air Medical Group Holdings, we will provide India with top-notch air medical services that will be affordable and accessible for everyone. These services will be on par with the established HEMS operations in the US and Europe,” said Arun Sharma, managing director, Aviators Air Rescue.

Arun Sharma

Arun Sharma

The tripartite agreement will use a fleet of three Airbus H130 helicopters equipped with emergency patient transportation facilities, organs, neo-natal and other time critical medical missions for the service.

Airbus Helicopters and Air Medical Group Holdings will train the pilots, medical personnel along with the definition of practices and procedures.

“We will bring to bear our global expertise in medical helicopters and our India-based support and services team to ensure that these H130s are always ready to respond to a call,” said Xavier Hay, President, Airbus Helicopters in India.

With the delivery of helicopters slated to begin in the second half of 2016, Aviator Air Rescue plans to launch the service in October 2016, to offer services to state governments, rescue groups, hospitals, clinics, public and private companies and individuals through subscription. (IANS)

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Indian Council of Medical Research and Sun Pharma come together to eradicate malaria

Apr 25, 2016 0

New Delhi– The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Monday announced it will collaborate with Sun Pharma to initiate research for malaria eradication and other innovative programmes related to it.

The research body also signed an agreement with the pharmaceutical company and the Madhya Pradesh government to establish a malaria elimination demonstration project titled ‘Malaria Free India’ under the public-private partnership model.

It will support the national framework for the elimination of malaria in India.

Saumya Swaminathan

Saumya Swaminathan

“It is the first time ICMR is entering into a partnership with India’s largest pharma brand in the field of malaria research. Drugs and other disease strategy in India can be tackled by this effort,” said ICMR director general Saumya Swaminathan.

The malaria elimination demonstration programme will start in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh, which along with five other states contributes 60 percent of malaria cases in India.

To demonstrate the feasibility of eliminating malaria and prevention of re-establishment of this disease, ICMR and Sun Pharma will use rapid diagnostic tests and anti-malarial drugs, long-lasting insecticide treated bednets and indoor residual spray.

Joint scientific research for development and testing of medical products (including drugs, biosimilars and vaccines) as well as disease control and elimination programmes would be undertaken.

Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda said the agreement between ICMR and Sun Pharma reiterates India’s commitment to eliminate malaria.

“Implementing the malaria demonstration project in a high transmission district of Mandla using proven case management and vector control strategies will be done in collaboration and through the government of Madhya Pradesh,” Nadda said.

The two organisations will set-up a Joint Working Group to identify and collaborate in disease surveillance and elimination that are relevant to India.

“Both will expand cooperation in the area of translational health sciences research with the objective of developing new and improved medicines for infectious and chronic diseases. They will jointly work to strengthen capacity and facilities required for conducting research and trials aimed at testing safety and efficacy of medical products,” said a statement from the ministry.

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