Urgent need for reform in Nepal’s medical education

The Lancet, Volume 388, No. 10061, p2739–2740, 3 December 2016
Authors: Bipin Adhikari, Shiva Raj Mishra
“Nepal is a low-income nation with a population of nearly 26·5 million. The doctor–patient ratio is 0·17 per 1000 population—substantially less than the WHO recommendation of 2·3 doctors per 1000 population. Nepal has seen a burgeoning of medical institutes in the past 10 years. However, this rapid surge in the number of medical colleges—with increases in fees and corruption involved in student admissions—has not aided undergraduate and postgraduate medical training, deteriorating the quality of medical education. The financial motives involved in these private medical colleges have further incurred political meddling, often resulting in disproportionate and unregulated licensing and affiliation to such colleges, which are not instructed to establish themselves in rural areas.”
Find article here.

How the tobacco industry is gaming Australian health regulations

The Conversation, 2 November 2016
Author: Steven Greenland
“Australia’s tough tobacco regulations are acting as a catalyst for the industry to develop sophisticated marketing practices. These companies are gaming the system by anticipating regulatory impact and then using unregulated marketing elements to overcome it.”
Find article here.

The Age of Genomics

Australian Science, July/August 2016
Author: Ainsley Newson
“This edition of Australasian Science focuses on the ethical, legal and social issues associated with advances in genomic science. Faster and more accurate sequencing of human genomes; smaller and smarter wearable technologies; an increasingly connected world; direct access to health testing; improvements in data storage. These are just some recent innovations now influencing Australian health care and society, and this issue of Australasian Science focuses on their associated social, ethical and legal issues.”
Find editorial here and links to articles on online genetic testing, indigenous genomics, biobanking, stem cell commercialisation, and personal genomics.

Labor claims Coalition considering privatising Australian School Vaccination Register

ABC News online 23 June 2016
Author: Caitlyn Gribbin
“Federal Labor is launching yet another attack on the Coalition, claiming children’s vaccination records could be sold off to private providers under a conservative government.
After almost a week of trying to prosecute an argument that the Coalition would privatise Medicare, Labor will today open a new front on the issue.”
Find article here.

Medical executives face criminal charges for “misbranded” devices

BMJ 2016;353:i3270
Author: Jeanne Lenzer
“Two US medical device executives are facing criminal charges for off-label promotion of a device to treat nasal sinus problems. William Facteau, former chief executive officer, and Patrick Fabian, vice president for sales, of the ear, nose, and throat medical device company Acclarent, have been charged with “distributing adulterated and misbranded medical devices” and securities fraud related to their promotion of the Status medical device to open up nasal sinuses.1 Acclarent was sold to Johnson & Johnson for $785m (£542m; €690m) in 2010.”
Find extract here.

Gilead escapes liability in hepatitis C patent fight with Merck

Reuters, 7 June 2016
Author: Andrew Chung
“A U.S. judge on Monday found a pattern of misconduct by Merck & Co including lying under oath and other unethical practices, freeing Gilead Sciences Inc from paying any damages for infringing Merck’s patents with its lucrative treatments for hepatitis C, Sovaldi and Harvoni. The dramatic ruling comes after a federal jury in San Jose, California, on March 24 ordered Gilead to pay $200 million in damages, based on findings that Merck’s patents were valid.”
Find article here.

Relationships between biomedical companies and guideline makers are often undisclosed

BMJ 2016;353:i3065
Author: Jacqui Wise
“Financial relationships between organisations that produce clinical guidelines and biomedical companies are common and often not disclosed in the guidelines, according to research published in PLOS Medicine.1 The Canadian researchers conducted a cross sectional survey and a website review of 290 clinical practice guidelines produced by 95 national or international medical organisations.”
Find extract here.

ACCC appeals $1.7m penalty against Reckitt Benckiser for misleading Nurofen representations

ACCC, statement 23 May 2016
“The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed a Notice of Appeal from the Federal Court’s decision ordering Reckitt Benckiser to pay penalties of $1.7 million for contravening the Australian Consumer Law. In December 2015, following admissions by Reckitt Benckiser, the Court found that Reckitt Benckiser engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by making representations on its website and product packaging that Nurofen Specific Pain products were each formulated to specifically treat a particular type of pain, when this was not the case.”
Find ACCC statement here. Find ABC News article ‘ACCC seeks $6m fine against Nurofen maker for misleading consumers‘.

‘Dangerous’ vitamins and supplements revealed in PBS Frontline, New York Times investigation

Four Corners, ABC TV, online 16 May 2016
“Troubling questions have been raised about the quality and safety of vitamins and dietary supplements, in a joint investigation by the New York Times and the PBS Frontline program. The report asked leading clinicians and researchers for their assessment of whether products actually did consumers any good. It found that in the multi-billion-dollar industry, some supplements and vitamins could actually be harmful.”
Find story here.

Drug Regulation and Pricing — Can Regulators Influence Affordability?

N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1807-1809May 12, 2016DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1601294
Authors: Hans-Georg Eichler, M.D., Hugo Hurts, M.Sc., Karl Broich, M.D., and Guido Rasi, M.D.
“Public debate in the 1990s over drugs’ clinical toxicity has given way to concerns about their financial toxicity. Although drug regulators aren’t supposed to be concerned with pricing, they’ve been drawn into an acrimonious debate over the cost of medicines.”
Find article here.