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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Drug patents: The battle goes on…..

The war between Generics and Brands doesn't seem to die down. In our last discussion, 
we had concluded that the basic difference between these two is the pricing, a marginal difference in the efficacy of both the variants and the safety profile was but obviously assured. Probably that was what we were made to believe.

The latest incident involving 13 female deaths at the Bilaspur sterilization camp has served as an eye opener.
As a knee jerk reaction, the honorable doctor who performed the surgeries at the camp was apprehended and charged with negligence and homicide.

Investigations have now revealed the presence of zinc phosphide, a rodenticide, in Ciprocin 500 (antibiotic), which was prescribed to all the patients during surgery.
This generic drug was manufactured by Mahawar Pharma Pvt Ltd, a Chhattisgarh-based drug firm, a small drug company according to revenue figures disclosed by the company.
This company has a very small unit in Raipur. They have been in the business for over 30 years now but it's a small scale business and supply of medicines was restricted within the state.
Political connections might have helped the company, despite reports that it was blacklisted two years ago over sale of duplicate generic drugs.

This may be a stray incident involving generic drugs but it certainly cannot be passed off without learning a lesson or two.

Firstly, it is important to realize that even the leading pharma companies do manufacture generics. The quality would obviously be ensured with such products.

Secondly, it is always better to avoid medical procedures and treatments in camps. Due to the large numbers, sterility can often be compromised.

And lastly. Dear doctors, if you ever have to participate in a medical camp, please ensure that the medical and paramedic staff are competent enough, drugs are of a standard quality and the setup fulfills the basic needs of a medical centre. Even though you haven't charged for your services, you are still answerable to the consumer forum.

A couple of weeks back I happened to meet a doctor colleague of mine from the US. He had remarked.  " The fundamental difference between the health system in our country and yours is that we value human lives". His words still keep ringing in my ears. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cell Phones: Savior or……...

The cell phone has provided an amazing safety net for citizens of almost all cultures across the world. The lives saved by the proliferation of cell phone communication is phenomenal — emergency calls, quick first responders, warnings of severe weather are only a few examples. However, the potential role of cell phones as an additional factor in oncogenesis (cancer creation) can't be dismissed.

The largest-ever study on the topic—the International Interphone study, which was conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and funded in part by cell phone companies, published in 2010, failed to find strong evidence that mobile phones increased the risk of brain tumors.

The IARC released a report in 2013, suggesting that there is a possibility of brain tumors amongst users of  both mobile and cordless phones.

But, the latest research on the subject concludes that long-term use of both mobile and cordless phones is associated with an increased risk for glioma, the most common type of brain tumor.

The new study published online October 28 in Pathophysiology, shows that the risk for glioma was tripled among those using a wireless phone for more than 25 years and that the risk was also greater for those who had started using mobile or cordless phones before age of 20 years.

This increased risk is due to greater exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. The brain is the main target of these emissions when these phones are used, with the highest exposure being on the same side of the brain where the phone is placed.

Children and adolescents are more exposed to radiation than adults because of their thinner skull bone and smaller head and the higher conductivity in their brain tissue. The brain is still developing up to about the age of 20 and until that time it is relatively vulnerable.

Radiation exposure increases dramatically when cell phone signals are weak.

Girls and doctors tend to put the smartphone below the pillow.
"It's a bad habit to go to bed with your smartphone."

It's time we minimized our risks.
Using hands-free phones with the "loud speaker" feature and text messaging instead of phoning should always be encouraged in appropriate settings.

"Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we're too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone" - Steven Spielberg.