Have India’s poor become human guinea pigs?

By Sue Lloyd-Roberts

Drug companies are facing mounting pressure to investigate reports that new medicines are being tested on some of the poorest people in India without their knowledge.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20136654


Concern at outsourced clinical trials in developing world

By Jane DreaperHealth correspondent, BBC News

Few drug companies have robust measures to ensure outsourced clinical trials in developing countries are safe and ethical, an independent report says.

Read more:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20468396

Judge orders tobacco firms to say they lied about smoking dangers

By Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday ordered tobacco companies to publish corrective statements that say they lied about the dangers of smoking and that disclose smoking’s health effects, including the death on average of 1,200 people a day.

Read more:   http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/27/15490985-judge-orders-tobacco-firms-to-say-they-lied-about-smoking-dangers?lite

US court orders tobacco firms to admit lying

A US judge has ordered tobacco firms to pay for a public campaign laying out “past deception” over smoking risks.

Judge orders tobacco companies to say they lied

Read  more:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20520983

The Island Where People Forget to Die


Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

One day in 1976, Moraitis felt short of breath. Climbing stairs was a chore; he had to quit working midday. After X-rays, his doctor concluded that Moraitis had lung cancer. As he recalls, nine other doctors confirmed the diagnosis. They gave him nine months to live. He was in his mid-60s.

Moraitis considered staying in America and seeking aggressive cancer treatment at a local hospital. That way, he could also be close to his adult children. But he decided instead to return to Ikaria, where he could be buried with his ancestors in a cemetery shaded by oak trees that overlooked the Aegean Sea. He figured a funeral in the United States would cost thousands, a traditional Ikarian one only $200, leaving more of his retirement savings for his wife, Elpiniki. Moraitis and Elpiniki moved in with his elderly parents, into a tiny, whitewashed house on two acres of stepped vineyards near Evdilos, on the north side of Ikaria.

US$10,000 per Month Drug for Cancer That Prolongs Life by 1.4 month

An unusually bold stand by doctors at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York has forced a big drug company to reduce the cost of an overpriced drug for treating colorectal cancer that was no better than a cheaper competitor and did almost nothing to extend a patient’s life. It is a heartening sign that alert and aggressive physicians can potentially play a major role in helping to reduce the escalating costs of health care for treatments of marginal value.

The drug is Zaltrap, which was developed by Sanofi, a large French pharmaceutical company, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a small biotechnology company in Tarrytown, N.Y. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in August as a second-line treatment for colorectal cancer after initial courses of treatment have stopped working. It is used for treating colorectal cancer that has spread from the colon to other parts of the body and is administered intravenously.

Zaltrap was initially priced at about $11,000 a month, more than double the price of a competing drug, Avastin, made by Genentech, which is itself considered too expensive by many doctors for the minimal medical benefit it delivers. When added to standard cancer treatments, both drugs improve the median survival time of patients by a minuscule 1.4 months.

The doctors at Sloan-Kettering balked at the high price of Zaltrap and decided not to approve the drug for use in the hospital.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/opinion/incredible-prices-for-cancer-drugs.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121113&_r=0

Penalised for having cancer

Many cancer patients are being tipped into poverty as a direct result of their illness, which adds stress and misery to an already very difficult situation. In this editorial, Cancer World looks at the many ways that a having cancer can hit people’s living standards.

Read more: http://www.cancerworld.org/Articles/Issues_51/Editorial/Penalised_for_having_cancer.html 

Comment: At CA Care I have patients who have spent RM 600,000 or RM100,000 for their treatment and yet could not find a cure. A patient came last week and told me he was in a government hospital undergoing chemo (he could not afford the private hospital) and there was one patient in the same ward. He told his son to stop doing what he was doing. He had spent more than a million ringgit and ended up in a government hospital after this. Enough is enough. No need to borrow money to treat him anymore. That night he jumped down from the 5th (or 6th?) floor.

How bad news can be good news for cancer services

UK’s National Cancer Director, Mike Richards said:

  • Media attention is essential if things are going to change.
  • I am not trying to get elected. But I know that we need those bad news stories. If all the journalists stopped criticising and said cancer is wonderful, my ability to move things would be diminished.

Knowing what needs to be done is one thing. Making it happen is quite another.

Well-informed media stories that highlight shortcomings and failings can help focus minds on the need for urgent action ~ Peter McIntyre

The media plays a critical role in creating political momentum for change to improve health services. When journalists do their job well, patients are more likely to get the treatment and care they need.”

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