Pfizer to invest $350 million in China biotech hub, first in Asia

Pfizer Inc will invest $350 million to build a biotech center in China, the latest in a series of moves by pharma industry giants to set up shop in the world’s no. 2 drugs market with the aim of securing faster approvals for their products.

The facility in eastern Hangzhou region – Pfizer’s first biotech center in Asia – is expected to be completed by 2018, the firm said in a statement on Tuesday.

Global “Big Pharma” is increasingly looking for smart ways to tap China’s healthcare market, estimated by consultancy IMS Health to be worth around $185 billion by 2018. From investing in Chinafacilities to acquisitions, licensing deals and joint ventures, the aim is to seek an edge in dealings with domestic regulators and government.

John Young, group president for Pfizer’sessential health division, said in the statement that the Hangzhou facilityshould “help support China’s aim to increase the complexity and value of its manufacturing sector by 2025”.

Pfizer said it would “work closely” with local regulators to bring the drugs “to market as soon as possible”. The center will focus mostly on biologic drugs – made from living micro-organisms rather than chemically synthesized – and lower-cost ‘biosimilars’, of generic versions of biologics.

Pharmaceutical executives have long complained about the slow process of getting drugs to market in China, while others have run up against regulatory roadblocks. Pfizer had to close its vaccine business in the country last year after a license for its top-selling vaccine Prevnar was not renewed.

China’s overall healthcare spending is set to hit $1.3 trillion by 2020, but drug market growth has slowed to a low single-digit percentage pace from over 20 percent just four years ago as branded generics have lost their shine and Beijing has looked to drive downprices to keep a lid on costs.

 

Source: ETHealthworld

Date: 28th June, 2016

 

“Point of Sales Persons can now sell crop insurance schemes”

Regulator IRDAI today allowed Point of Sales Persons on non-life insurers to solicit the three government sponsored crops insurance schemes.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY), Weather-Based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS) and Coconut Palm Insurance Scheme (CPIS) can now be solicited and procured through Point of Sales Persons of non-life insurers.

“The Authority, removes cap on sum insured for the above mentioned government sponsored crop insurance schemes,” Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India said in a circular.

The insurers wishing to solicit and procure the three government sponsored crop insurance schemes through Point of Sales Persons will have to follow the prescribed procedure.

Point of Sales Persons can solicit and market only certain pre-underwritten products approved by the IRDAI.

The Agriculture Ministry has empanelled 11 private sector companies and state-owned Agriculture Insurance Company (AIC) to implement the PMFBY. It is also actively considering to empanel four state-run general insurance companies.

Under the PMFBY, farmers’ premium has been kept lower at 1.5-2 per cent for foodgrains and oilseed crops and up to 5 per cent for horticultural and cotton crops.

There will not be a cap on the premium and 25 per cent of the likely claim will be settled directly in farmers accounts.

The new scheme aims to increase the insurance coverage to 50 per cent of the total crop area of 194.40 million hectares, from the existing level of about 25-27 per cent.

 

Source: Business Standard

Date: June 28th, 2016.

New method can wipe out cancerous tumours in two hours

An experimental method that can kill up to 95 per cent of cancer cells in two hours and may tremendously help people with inoperable or hard-to-reach tumours, as well as young children stricken with cancer, a study suggests.

The newly patented method to kill cancer cells has been developed by Matthew Gdovin, Associate Professor at University of Texas at San Antonio.

The new treatment involves injecting a chemical compound, nitrobenzaldehyde, into the tumour and allowing it to diffuse into the tissue.

He then aims a beam of light at the tissue, causing the cells to become very acidic inside and, essentially, commit suicide.

With this method, Gdovin estimated, up to 95 per cent of the targeted cancer cells die within two hours.

The study was published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Even though there are many different types of cancers, the one thing they have in common is their susceptibility to this induced cell suicide,” Gdovin said.

Gdovin tested his method against triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive types of cancer and one of the hardest to treat.

After one treatment in the laboratory, he was able to stop the tumor from growing and double chances of survival in mice.

Gdovin hopes that his non-invasive method will help cancer patients with tumors in areas that have proven problematic for surgeons, such as the brain stem, aorta or spine.

It could also help people who have received the maximum amount of radiation treatment and can no longer cope with the scarring and pain that goes along with it, or children who are at risk of developing mutations from radiation as they grow older.

“There are so many types of cancer for which the prognosis is very poor,” he said.

“We’re thinking outside the box and finding a way to do what for many people is simply impossible,” Gdovin said.

 

Source: ETHealthworld

Date: 28th June, 2016

Govt puts cap on prices of 42 essential drugs

The government has decided to put a cap on prices of 42 essential medicines used in treatment of various critical and life-threatening diseases such as tuberculosis, cancer and cardiac diseases.

As per reports, the ceiling prescribed by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) would bring the cost of these essential drugs down by almost 15 %.

The NPPA, in it notification,said it has fixed or revised ceiling prices of 45 scheduled formulations ofSchedule-I under Drugs (Price Control) Amendment Order, 2016.

Out of the 45, the price of 42 drugs would come down by 15 %.

The authority has also fixed the retail price of 12 formulations under DPCO, 2013.

The government fixes the prices of essential drugs based on the simple average of all medicines in a particular therapeutic segment, having sales of more than 1 per cent.

Set up in 1997, NPPA has beenentrusted with the task of fixation/revision of prices of pharma products, enforcement of provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order and monitoring of prices of controlled and decontrolled drugs.

 

Source: ETHealthworld

Date: 28th June, 2016

Entrepreneurs with social mission: Four Indian startups that are fighting cancer

For big pharma, a cure for cancer is still the holy grail but there has been some headway. In the past five years, drug companies have launched 70 drugs that treats 20 types of tumours. At least 500 companies are working to develop a molecule that might cure the disease, or at least prolong survival.

The global market for cancer treatment shot up to nearly $107 billion in 2015, according to consultancy IMS Health. Thoughthese statistics presage a brighter future in the fight against cancer, most of the newer therapies or newer drugs in areas like immunotherapy have been limited to developed countries.

The new drugs and therapies are out of reach for most emerging economies like India. It is not hard to see why. Striking a balance between the affordability of life saving cancer medications and rewards for research is complicated. Cancer research has set off a raging debate between entrepreneurs with a social mission and investors who sense ripe business potential.

India is one of the few countries afflicted by a sharp rise in cancer-related fatalities. Nearly 70% of the healthcare expenses are out of pocket most patients lack insurance cover, shutting them from best treatment practices and there is a severe shortage of trained oncologists and good hospitals.

Still, there is hope. A bunch of investors have invested in drug discovery companies. They have also stepped in to improve cancer healthcare delivery. Their companies might not be working on life saving medications, but they are trying to fill the gaps in every step of the healthcare delivery. From using robotics for treating tumours to enabling patients to access consultations from top oncologists in the comforts of their homes, these startups in India are doing their bit in the fight against cancer. These are their stories.

Panacea Medical Technologies
Area: Manufactures radiation therapy machines
Founder: GV SUBRAHMANYAM
Investor: New Enterprise Associates Location Bengaluru

‘Our machines do the talking’
The $10 billion radiotherapy and radiology space is dominated by just two companies in the world Sweden’s Elekta and Varian Medical Systems of the US. It is in this niche market that Bengaluru-based Panacea Medical Technologies is aiming to make a dent. Big ambitions maybe, but founder GV Subramanyam, or GVS as he is known to friends and associates, ismodest, even apologetic, about his plans. He says his company wants to be the third one in this space. Panacea, he says, is the only maker of medical equipment for radiotherapy in Asia. “We are a highly focussed company in radiation therapy, and this kind of focus gives us an edge,” he says. The machine offers improved results in treating tumours at an affordable cost.

The 17-year old company has installed its machines in nearly 55 Indian hospitals since 2010, which has helped it clock a revenue of Rs 28 crore. GVS concedes the numbers and his growth are humdrum. He blames a poor start for that. It took Panacea almost a decade to find its feet and be recognised as a serious player. Those years were a struggle. Two of the co founders left the firm. “You spend time, money and still there is no income and results. They (co founders) did not have patience and perseverance,” he says.

The first product Panacea developed was a radiation device based on brachytherapy, an invasive radiation therapy for treating cancer . The product took two years to make but went out of the market four months after it was launched because the radioactive isotopes which were designed for those machines were removed from medical use by regulators across the world.

GVS persevered with time and money, working on Bhabhatron, a device that not only offered precise targeted radiation therapy but also managed to make a case for peaceful use of atomic energy. While working on this product, he roped in Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) tocollaborate in its manufacture. The product was launched three years later. But recognition poured in during the India’s negotiation with the IAEA in 2008. “The IAEA donated our machine to Vietnam as a symbol of peaceful use of atom,” says GVS. Panacea had finally arrived, but it had taken nearly two decades.

“When we started there was no acceptance of Indian technology, so we had to wait for that attitude to change, but we are glad that now our machines do the talking for the technology,” says GVS. Panacea has received investment from early stage PE player New Enterprise Associates; it is now looking for $15 million as the next round of capital. GVS says he wants to capture 35% market share in the radiotherapy and radiologyspace. Owing to regulations related to nuclear energy, large parts of Europe and America are out of bounds for Panacea. So the company is targeting South East Asia and parts of east Africa. By 2021 GVS plans to take Panacea public and clock in Rs 1,000 crore in revenues.

Navya Network

Area: Online consultation platform for cancer patients
Founders: GITIKA SRIVASTAVA, NARESH RAMARAJAN
Investor: Tata Trust Location Cambridge (Boston) and Mumbai

‘We were warned nobody would pay over internet’
In 2014, venture capital investor Gitika Srivastava learned that a close relative was diagnosed with cancer at her hometown in Jamshedpur. It was a particularly harrowing time for her family. There was a deluge of advice, but to the hundreds of questions in their mind should they start chemotherapy, should they fly down to Mumbai to get direct access to the best oncologists, was it the right time for surgery no answers were coming. Srivastava was certain thousands of families in India shared her family’s dilemma. She soon began work along with her college friend from Harvard Dr Naresh Ramarajan to offer a solution. That’s how Navya Network, an online platform for cancer patients and their families that provides consultations with leading oncologists from Tata Medical Centre (TMC) for anominal fee, took shape.

“When we started Navya, we were warned that nobody would be willing to pay for consultations over the internet. We wereapprehensive too but we were proved wrong”, says Srivastava, 41, a serial entrepreneur who shuttles between Boston and Mumbai.

Six lakh people are diagnosed with cancer every year, but they have only 1,500 cancer specialists to go to, according to data from TMC. Adding to the healthcare and treatment costs are ancillary costs,including travel to healthcare centres.

Navya, launched in 2015, was built, and proven in clinical trials, to be able to make similar decisions as expert oncologists. Now, it runs as a service to empower cancer patients by relying on evidence and experience of the system as well as the expertise of global expert oncologists at institutions such as Tata Memorial Centre. Navya uses clinical data to zero in on the exact treatment to patients so that they can cut down on wastefultrips to hospitals.

At Rs 5,000 per consultation, Srivastava says patients and their families can get the same consultation which they receive if they visited the hospital. Within a year of launch, Navya has offered consultancy to nearly 6,000 patients through TMC. The number is modest, concedes Srivastava, but she is glad that the service is being looked at seriously.

The next goal is to bring down the cost of consultation, which is possible by increasing the number of people using this platform not only in India but also from neighbouring countries. Gitika is hesitant to talk about the venture in purely commercial terms, but she is also pragmatic that for a venture to make a difference it needs to be sustainable. “Anything that wants to make an impact can happen only through grant funding, she says.

Srivastava is well connected in the VC circle of Boston, which has emerged as a hotspot for biotech companies. Ergo, fundraising is not an issue. The money is required primarily for marketing and outreachprograms. The next step for Navya is to expand services, currently limited to breast cancer, to other forms of cancer. Navya aims to become the first source of consultations for patients who not only have to deal with emotional stress of cancer, but also have to battle the confusion about the right treatment.

UE Lifesciences
Area: Breast cancer screening device
Founders: MIHIR SHAH, MATTHEW CAMPISI
Investors: Manipal Hospitals, Unitus Seed Fund, Arian Capial Location Mumbai, Philadelphia

‘We want to cut costs further’
In 2006, Mihir Shah, a computer engineer by training who was working on various ideas on noninvasive medical technologies in Philadelphia, decided to tackle the growing number of cancer deaths among Indian patients. They zeroed in on breast cancer; one of Shah’s close relatives was diagnosed with the disease.

“When it happened I couldn’t help asking the larger questions about cancer and the survival rate. That’s when I realised there are two worlds when it comes to treating the disease,” says Shah. “The developed world has access to early detection, better treatment and hence the outcomes were fantastic, unlike the low and middle income countries like India where the survival rate was poor because of lack of early detection.”

Indeed, nearly 40,000 women in the US are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, but that number is shrinking. In India, the opposite is the case, with half of the women dying under the age of 50. “We are losing far younger women to cancer,” says Shah.

Shah and Matthew Campisi, a polytechnic professor, set up UE Lifesciences in 2009. They developed iBreastExam, a noninvasive hand-held device that is used for early detection of breast cancer. The palmsized device works by identifying minute differences in tissue elasticity between hard and stiff breast cancer tumours versus normal, benign breast tissues.

The existing infrastructure around detection is built around mammography, a single purpose system which is expensive, sometimes painful and needs to be operated by a specialist. It creates a huge barrier to access, especially in a country like India, according to Shah. He says the accuracy of mammography detecting a tumour among young women is also only 50%.

With this problem in mind, UE wanted to develop a device that was portable, inexpensive and could be operated by non-medical health workers. So when the team was looking for a technology to develop the device, they found researchers at Philadelphia based Drexil University had invented a sensor technology that could detect lesions or tumours in breasttissues. Shah and Campisi scrambled to get hold of the licence.

They beat healthcare giants such J&J and Medtronics to win the licence. The next hurdle was funding. “We had no capital, and tech development of a medical device is too expensive because there is so much regulation,” says Shah. But “the universe conspired to make my idea become a reality”, he says quoting a line from the bestseller The Alchemist.

The Pennsilvania State health department opened a grant for ideas based on cancer detection. iBreastExam received a grant of $500,000. This was in 2010. It took the duo nearly four years to bring the product to the commercial stage. Along the way, the idea attracted grants and investors like angel investment firm Unitus Seed Fund and Ranjan Pai of Manipal Institute, who have committed funding worth $5 million.

Since the launch of the device in India last year, Shah and his team have screened 10,000 women. Their target is a lakh by the end of this year. The cost per screening is Rs 500-1,000 in private clinics and Rs 80-150 for governments.

Shah is betting on state health departments and corporates to drive revenue. “We want to cut the cost further,” he says. “We want to bring this to $1, which would mean that even if we screen a million women we can make our money.”

Perfint Healthcare
Area: Robotic device that detects and removes cancerous tumours
Founders: NANDAKUMAR S, GURUSWAMY K AND PUHAZHENDI K
Investors: Accel, Innoven, IDG, Norwest Venture Partners Location Chennai 

‘Nobody is using robotics the way we do’
More than a decade ago, three former colleagues of GE who quit their jobs in healthcare met in Chennai. As it happens on such occasions, the meeting was replete with nostalgia about the good old days. The discussion soon veered to the buzzing startup scene in India. Nandakumar S,Guruswamy K, and Puhazhendi K had moved to different paths in finance, technology and automobiles but were connected by one core idea design and product development.

They decided to float a R&D servicing company in 2005, specifically in the area of medical diagnostics. The founders wanted their company to be the Infosys in healthcare technology. Perfint started as an engineering and advisory firm, helping companies make surgical machines.

But when the first seed funding came through by Accel Partners, Perfint decided to make machines themselves on the advice of the investor. The outcome was India’s first robotic navigation solution fortreating painful tumour surgeries.

“Nobody is really using robotics the way we do for guiding therapy,” says Nandakumar S. “Patient specific treatment plan will be, in a way, a part of personalised healthcare in the future”, he explains.

Perfint’s robotic device branded as Maxio creates a patient specific treatment plan and then guides the physician to precisely place multiple needles during complex, minimally invasive interventional treatment of multiple tumours. The device guides physicians minimise residual tumour and recurrence while minimising needle manipulations, pain, radiation exposure and procedure time.

Puhazhendi says the three co-founders were part of various teams that had developed products for GE for the Indian and the global markets. “So that gave us the confidence to create products under the new company. We could have remained a product services company, but there was more fun to be part of product creation.”

Since 2008, Perfint has sold over 100 devices in various parts of the world. Around 10,000 surgeries have been performed using their device. With a growth rate of nearly 50%, the team hopes to be profitable by this financial year. But Nandakumar is not pleased with the revenue growth. He says cancer patients are largely treated by the public health care systems, given the high cost of cancer care, but the government’s purchase systems, despite the potential for huge orders, are long and complex.

Despite these hiccups, Perfint aims to be one of the top five players in robotic based therapy.

The next step for Perfint is raise $10-15 million. It will then go public.

 

Source: ETHealthworld

Date: 28th June, 2016

Dehradun : State gets first palliative care centre

The opening of the first day care palliative cancer centre in the city has come as a relief for cancer patients. Governor KK Paul inaugurated the centre at Shastri Nagar on Haridwar Road here on Saturday. The centre is a joint initiative of the Himalayan University and Rotary Club. According to WHO, a palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness.

At the centre here, patients will be provided relief from pain and other distressing symptoms under the care of trained nurses and doctors. The day care unit will also run an evening clinic for cancer patients while during daytime, patients will stay under the care of trained palliative staff. It is estimated that Uttarakhand has thousands ofcancer patients but till date, the health department has not gathered specific data in regard to number of oncology patients. Incidentally, India is home to 2.4 million cancer patients and currently, barely 1% of patients are able to get pain and palliative care. And shockingly, Uttarakhand doesn’t have even a single government set-up where such patients can be given palliative care.

According to experts, terminally ill people are the most overlooked category of patients under the Indian healthcare system but it needs attention. Exhorting on involving youth in social entrepreneurship, governor Paul said, “After one stage even drugs are not effective. That’s where the role of youth needs to be ensured so that the future of our nation goes in the hands of sensitive and responsible people. India needs to take a cue from the US to involve its youth into social entrepreneurship.”

He lauded the works done by Swami Rama Himalyan University and International Rotarian Club’s Dehradun branch for jointly contributing towards the cause. Governor urged college and university authorities in the state to direct their students to work for social and humanitarian causes.

Speaking about the need for setting up palliative units in Uttarakhand to meet the need of terminally ill patients, Dr.Vijay Dhasmana, VC, Swami Rama Himalyan University, said, “Oncology care is technology driven and quite expensive, often beyond the reach of common man. Hence the staff at this centre will focus on this palliative care enabling a switch from high tech to low tech care and yet enable better quality of life without compromising the longevity, more so during end of life for the patients. All the healthcare centres of the state should focus on coming up with such units which cater to the needs of terminally ill patients.”

 

Source: ETHealthworld

Date: 26th June, 2016

The Essential `Job Search’ Toolkit

A job hunt can be stressful, but you can relieve some of that pressure by offloading the difficult parts to technology . Theplace to start usually is LinkedIn, Microsoft’s latest acquisition. It already lets you network with the right professionals, create a résumé and search for job opportunities. And now, you may even get more features that integrate Microsoft’s services ­ like OneDrive for cloud storage, an office suite, and possibly even Skype for calling ­ into LinkedIn.But there are some things LinkedIn lacks, like advice on what you should write in that CV or how muchsalary you can expect in your job role.Thankfully , there are web resourcesavailable that can help get you ready for your dream job.

robuartiStockGetty Images

UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS

Those who don’t know where to begin their job search might want to refer to 50 Ways To Get A Job, which offers step-by-step instructions on how to break down a job hunt into a simple manageable process.

The website guides you through various phases: Starting, Finding My Purpose, Learning New Skills, Networking, Applying for Jobs, and Interviewing. Each step helps you figure out the right career path for you, how to acquire the skills, and more.

50 Ways also includes a bunch of resources, which you’ll discover as you progress through the stages. For example, it will guide you on setting up your LinkedIn profile, and even offer a free spreadsheet template to organize your job search.

50waystogetajob.com

ORGANIZE YOUR JOB SEARCH

A haphazard collection of notes, emails, calendar appointments and important files will only lead to a frazzled brain. Instead, try JobHero ­ a digital hub that lets you organize all aspects of your job hunt.

The resource provides you with a dashboard in which you can add all the jobs you are applying for, their description, references, and any other instructions and notes you might write down for yourself. You can even upload important files like your résumé, a cover letter, portfolio requirements, and other attachments in the dashboard’s Documents pane. JobHero even has a job search board and career advice, but those are of little use in the Indian context. Stick to using this one as an organization tool, nothing else.

gojobhero.com

WRITE THE PERFECT RÉSUMÉ

I f you have struggled with creating a good CV in the past, you will know that composing a well formatted résumé isn’t easy. Well, head to EnhanCV ­ a free service that lets you create a résumé without even signing up.

The big benefit of EnhanCV are its tips on how to fill each section. For example, it will advise you to describe how you applied your skills and abilities to achieve something. This lets you quantify your work and convey its significance.

These are the small insights that will make your CV stand out when compared to others. You can also add new sections, rearrange or edit the layout, and change the fonts or colour scheme.

The free version lets you download a résumé with an EnhanCV watermark in the bottom.

If you want to remove that, you’ll need to opt for a paid account, which costs `1,000 per month. If money is an issue, you could use EnhanCV’s suggestions and tips as a starting point to create your résumé in Microsoft Word or any other word processor of your choice.

enhancv.com

LEARN THE INTERVIEW PROCESS

Mike and Jeff, aka The Interview Guys (TIG), have two objectives: to get you theinterview, and then, the job.

TIG boasts of a large repository of YouTube videos that are full of tips and tricks that you can use during your interview, ranging from how to negotiate your salary to how to assert dominance with your body language.

Perhaps the most important section of their site is what you should do after the interview, which features techniques on how to follow up without seeming pushy and desperate.

theinterviewguys.com

PREPARE FOR YOUR INTERVIEW

It’s a good idea to practise for your interview with a mock meeting first. My Interview Simulator (MIS) is a simple web app that helps you do that. This website has compiled the most common questions asked in job interviews and turned them into a tool to test yourself. There are 46 basic and 85 behavioural questions, and six full interview simulations. The basic interviews act as guides, telling you how you should deal with a question and what the interviewer is looking for in your answer.

Once you go through the basic interviews, try out the behavioural ones and only then proceed to the final interview simulations. It might be helpful to get someone else to practise these with you, so that you get used to the idea of talking to a person, not just a screen.

myinterviewsimulator .com

COMPARE SALARIES

One of the most vexing parts of the job hunt process is salary negotiation. It can be tough to figure out whether you’re being paid fairly or getting exploited. To put your doubts at ease, research at PayCheck.

In PayCheck’s Salary Checker tool, select your occupation and the years of experience you have to get an idea of how much people like you are being paid across India. This data has been collected from various sources, including users who submit their own details to the site.

The tool also provides other factors you might want to consider about the position you’re being offered, such as the average age and working hours, gender ratio, job satisfaction, contractual or freelance, and so on.

PayCheck also has detailed resources on understanding labour and wage laws, policies on leaves and holidays, safety and trade unions.

paycheck.in

DISCUSS WITH PEERS

Sometimes, you need real people to answer job related queries. Try CiteHR, an online community of HR executives, consultants, startup founders and employees whoprovide answers to “all aspects of business and professional life“.

Registered users can post questions regarding anything from Provident Fund withdrawals to background checks on a certain company’s department, how to start a PR firm or even the requisites to apply for a job in a specific industry.

Just make sure you look at the user’s profile to see how respected they are in the community or ask them to cite a valid source for their opinions before taking any advice. Remember, this is a bulletin board service, so it’s always best to be thorough in your own research.

Source : The Times of India

Date : 26-06-2016