Monthly Archives: June 2013

EU confronts Washington over reports it spies on European allies

Thanks;Annika Breidthardt and Ben Deighton

BRUSSELS/BERLIN — The European Union has demanded that the United States explain a report in a German magazine that Washington is spying on the group, using unusually strong language to confront its closest trading partner over its alleged surveillance activities.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission said on Sunday the EU contacted U.S. authorities in Washington and Brussels about a report in Der Spiegel magazine that the U.S. secret service had tapped EU offices in Washington and Brussels and at the United Nations.
“We have immediately been in contact with the U.S. authorities in Washington D.C. and in Brussels and have confronted them with the press reports,” the spokeswoman said.
“They have told us they are checking on the accuracy of the information released yesterday and will come back to us,” she added in a statement.
Der Spiegel reported on its website on Saturday that the National Security Agency had bugged EU offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks in the latest revelation of alleged U.S. spying that has prompted outrage from EU politicians.

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/30/19214380-eu-confronts-washington-over-reports-it-spies-on-european-allies?lite

NSA leaker remains hidden in Moscow airport

American fugitive Edward Snowden has taken his low profile to a new level. A week ago he landed Sheremetyevo Airport’s transit zone to take refuge, and no one has spotted him since. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports.
American fugitive Edward Snowden has taken his low profile to a new level. A week ago he landed Sheremetyevo Airport’s transit zone to take refuge, and no one has spotted him since. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports.
The German publication quoted from a September 2010 “top secret” U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) document that it said fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had taken with him, and the weekly’s journalists had seen in part.
The magazine followed up on Sunday with a report that the U.S. secret service taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month and has classed its biggest European ally as a target similar to China.
Revelations about the alleged U.S. spying program, which became public through documents taken by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have raised a furor in the United States and abroad over the balance between privacy rights and national security.
The extent to which Washington’s EU allies are being monitored has emerged as an issue of particular concern.
“If the media reports are correct, this brings to memory actions among enemies during the Cold War. It goes beyond any imagination that our friends in the United States view the Europeans as enemies,” said German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger.
“If it is true that EU representations in Brussels and Washington were indeed tapped by the American secret service, it can hardly be explained with the argument of fighting terrorism,” she said in a statement.
GERMANY TAPPED
Germans are particularly sensitive about government monitoring, having lived through the Stasi secret police in the former communist East Germany and with lingering memories of the Gestapo of Hitler’s Nazi regime.
On Saturday, Martin Schulz, president of the EU Parliament and also a German, said that if the report was correct, it would have a “severe impact” on relations between the EU and the United States.
“On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the U.S. authorities with regard to these allegations,” he said in an emailed statement.
Some policymakers said talks for a free trade agreement between Washington and the EU should be put on ice until further clarification from the United States.
“Partners do not spy on each other,” the European commissioner for justice and fundamental rights, Viviane Reding, said at a public event in Luxembourg on Sunday.
“We cannot negotiate over a big transatlantic market if there is the slightest doubt that our partners are carrying out spying activities on the offices of our negotiators,” Reding said in comments passed on to reporters by her spokeswoman.
The European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee head Elmar Brok, from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. echoed those views.
“The spying has taken on dimensions that I would never have thought possible from a democratic state,” he told Der Spiegel.
“How should we still negotiate if we must fear that our negotiating position is being listened to beforehand?”

McDonald’s Israel ‘Boycott’ is 20 Years Old—So What’s the Big Deal?

Thanks;Emily L. HauserJun 28, 2013 4:15 pm EDT

20130630-072125.jpgIsraeli financial daily Calcalist reported on Wednesday that global behemoth McDonald’s won’t be opening a franchise in a shopping mall currently under construction in Ariel, Israel’s largest West Bank settlement—that, in fact, owner and general manager Omri Padan “refuses” to do so.

Rainer Jensen/DPA/Landov
McDonald’s Israel has clarified, however, that it’s always been company policy not to operate beyond the Green Line, and as the Israeli franchise has been a growing concern for twenty years, it requires a special kind of effort to see the refusal as anything new, or as a response to any sort of pressure. Sure it’s a boycott, but it’s a boycott that’s already a generation old.

In 1998, Padan told Haaretz

McDonald’s-Israel has not nor will it open a branch in any Israeli settlement beyond the Green Line. Back when I was the general manager of Kitan Textiles, I told the board I would resign immediately if they moved to open a plant [in] the West Bank. I have the privilege of not needing to compromise on my principles.

Indeed, a source close to Padan told Haaretz the other day that

This is a media spin generated by [mall owner] Rami Levy and his associates. Padan hadn’t even heard of this mall until he was approached seven months ago. He rejected the idea outright. Levy is trying to push his mall forward with media spin, whereas our chain’s policies concerning the opening of branches across the Green Line have been well known for years.

So the story currently rocketing around the Israeli and broader Jewish media is, as they say, a nothing-burger.

But buried in the hype is an interesting reflection of Israeli social reality: Omri Padan spent his army years in the IDF’s elite commando unit known as the sayeret matkal, the same legendary unit in which Benjamin Netanyahu also served, just a few years earlier.

Unlike Netanyahu, however, in 1978 Padan was among the founding members of Peace Now, the movement that launched the Israeli peace movement as it’s known today, in all its complexity. On the other hand, the mall in which McDonald’s will not be opening is being built by Rami Levy, a Likudnik “considered close to the Prime Minister.”

All of which is to say: These men more than likely know each other. Israel is a small place, and the military/political/business elite (which is, bottom line, one and the same) is even smaller. If Padan, Netanyahu, and Levy aren’t buddies or didn’t actually serve shoulder to shoulder, they’ve almost certainly attended the same weddings, share friends, might even feature in the background of each other’s family photo albums.

But even if not—even in the event that Omri Padan has never so much as crossed paths with either Levy or Netanyahu—there is simply no way that Rami Levy actually believed the owner of McDonald’s Israel would agree to open a branch in Ariel, and to the extent that his friend the Prime Minister knows anything about his business affairs, Netanyahu, too, knew there was no way.

Why spin the story, then? Why create something where there was nothing, why imply that Padan has taken a new stance, why hint that he has been influenced by the international BDS movement?

I don’t know, and I rather suspect that Levy and his associates would be unlikely to tell me.

But at a time of unprecedented animosity toward the Israeli left and its supporters abroad, a time when the government sees fit to keep its people ignorant of Arab peace moves and conduct a misinformation campaign against Israeli Bedouin citizens, it seems entirely of a piece that a right-wing businessman with connections in the Prime Minister’s office might want to try to embarrass and discredit a man like Padan—and possibly to provoke the following: The director of the Yesha Council (the settlement movement’s political arm) told the Jerusalem Post that

McDonald’s has turned from a business into an organization with an anti-Israeli political agenda. We expect that Israeli citizens, especially those living in [the settlements], will take this into account before entering the company’s franchises.

As McDonald’s controls a whopping 70 percent share of the Israeli fast food market, it’s not clear how much damage such a boycott would do.

But don’t worry about the settlers—Ariel will be getting Israel’s McDonald’s knock-off, Burger Ranch. “For the glory of the state of Israel,” the company announced.

At last, Herzl can rest in peace. Nothing-burgers for everyone!

See the child – before the disability, UNICEF says

Vaniceseasonal's Blog

Thanks;UNICEF

http://youtu.be/3cD4uMQBZIk

See the child – before the disability, UNICEF says Inclusion of children with disabilities benefits society as a whole Da Nang, Viet Nam, 30 May 2013 – Children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot do, according to UNICEF’s annual State of the World’s Children’s report.
Concentrating on the abilities and potential of children with disabilities would create benefits for society as a whole, says the report released today. “When you see the disability before the child, it is not only wrong for the child, but it deprives society of all that child has to offer,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Their loss is society’s loss; their gain is society’s gain.” The report lays out how societies can include children with disabilities because when they play a full part in society, everyone…

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See the child – before the disability, UNICEF says

Thanks;UNICEF

http://youtu.be/3cD4uMQBZIk

See the child – before the disability, UNICEF says Inclusion of children with disabilities benefits society as a whole Da Nang, Viet Nam, 30 May 2013 – Children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot do, according to UNICEF’s annual State of the World’s Children’s report.
Concentrating on the abilities and potential of children with disabilities would create benefits for society as a whole, says the report released today. “When you see the disability before the child, it is not only wrong for the child, but it deprives society of all that child has to offer,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Their loss is society’s loss; their gain is society’s gain.” The report lays out how societies can include children with disabilities because when they play a full part in society, everyone benefits. For instance, inclusive education broadens the horizons of all children even as it presents opportunities for children with disabilities to fulfil their ambitions. More efforts to support integration of children with disabilities would help tackle the discrimination that pushes them further into the margins of society. For many children with disabilities, exclusion begins in the first days of life with their birth going unregistered. Lacking official recognition, they are cut off from the social services and legal protections that are crucial to their survival and prospects. Their marginalization only increases with discrimination. “For children with disabilities to count, they must be counted – at birth, at school and in life,” said Mr. Lake. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities says that children with disabilities are the least likely to receive health care or go to school. They are among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly if they are hidden or put in institutions – as many are because of social stigma or the economic cost of raising them. The combined result is that children with disabilities are among the most marginalized people in the world. Children living in poverty are among the least likely to attend their local school or clinic but those who live in poverty and also have a disability are even less likely to do so. Gender is a key factor, as girls with disabilities are less likely than boys to receive food and care. “Discrimination on the grounds of disability is a form of oppression,” the report says, noting that multiple deprivations lead to even greater exclusion for many children with disabilities. There is little accurate data on the number of children with disabilities, what disabilities these children have and how disabilities affect their lives. As a result, few governments have a dependable guide for allocating resources to support and assist children with disabilities and their families. About one third of the world’s countries have so far failed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The report urges all governments to keep their promises to guarantee the equal rights of all their citizens – including their most excluded and vulnerable children. Progress is being made toward the inclusion of children with disabilities, albeit unevenly, and The State of the World’s Children 2013 sets out an agenda for further action. The report urges governments to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to support families so that they can meet the higher costs of caring for children with disabilities. It calls for measures to fight discrimination among the general public, decision-makers and providers of such essential services as schooling and health care. International agencies should make sure the advice and assistance they provide to countries is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They should promote a concerted global research agenda on disability to generate data and analysis that will guide planning and resource allocation, the report says. It emphasizes the importance of involving children and adolescents with disabilities by consulting them on the design and evaluation of programmes and services for them. And everyone benefits when inclusive approaches include accessibility and universal design of environments to be used by all to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptation. “The path ahead is challenging,” said Mr. Lake in Da Nang, Viet Nam, for the launch of the report. “But children do not accept unnecessary limits. Neither should we.”

Football body, IMG Reliance plan IPL-style tournament

Thanks;Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla
Published; June 28

Indian football fans are in for a treat. The All India Football Federation and its commercial partner IMG Reliance are in talks with leading players like Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi to be part of a franchise based league, on the lines of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The visit of Argentine football players Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi to India, have stimulated interest in the sport. IMG Reliance’s IPL-style tournament for football is set to see some international action when it kicks off early next year, said people close to the development.

Last week, a team from IMG Reliance was in Kolkata, meeting up with the Indian Football Association, Bengal’s state football association and the state ministry, regarding the proposed tournament. Officials visited Salt Lake Stadium, Gitanjali Stadium, Barasat Stadium and Rabindra Sarobar Stadium while in the city, and are to decide on the venue.

IMG Reliance is the commercial partner of the All India Football Federation (AIFF). In 2010, IMG Reliance, the joint venture between IMG Worldwide and Reliance Industries, acquired all the commercial rights to football in India, in a 15-year deal.

The tournament is likely to be contested among eight city-based franchises. IMG Reliance has already met state associations and requisite ministry officials in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kochi and New Delhi. AIFF has also checked in with the Western India Football Association about the availability of the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai and the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune.

To promote the sport, IMG Reliance has decided to “radically restructure and improve the game of football throughout India, from the grassroots to the professional level,” officials said. The AIFF deal envisages that IMG Reliance gets all commercial rights to football across all football properties controlled by AIFF, including the national teams and all current and future professional leagues.

Other than talent scouting and training and development, the deal envisages the development of an elite world class professional domestic league, which will showcase the best available Indian and international talent.

Officials added that training facilities for Indian talent is on and has been modelled on IMG’s sports academy in Bradenton, Florida, USA, where the entire Indian Under-14 team are currently on fully funded scholarships provided by IMG Reliance.

Incidentally, AIFF has won a bid to host the FIFA U17 World Cup 2017 in India. The government has also approved Rs 120 crore for the upgradation of six stadiums in India which include the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata, the Nehru Stadium, Delhi, Cooperage Stadium in Goa and the Banglore Stadium.

Japan’s Whaling Is Not Science, Expert Witness Tells World Court

Thanks;Thomas Escritt

The Japanese practice of catching and killing nearly 1,000 whales a year cannot be justified as science, an expert witness told the World Court on Thursday in a case Australia has brought against Japan.

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – The Japanese practice of catching and killing nearly 1,000 whales a year cannot be justified as science, an expert witness told the World Court on Thursday in a case Australia has brought against Japan.

Despite an international whaling moratorium in force since 1986, Japan continues to catch the aquatic mammals in the Antarctic under a clause allowing scientific research, but critics say the real reason for the hunt is to continue harvesting whale meat.

That view was supported by Marc Mangel, a mathematical biologist from the University of California Santa Cruz, who told the International Court of Justice that “lethal take” – catching and killing specimens – needed to answer specific scientific questions if it was to count as science.

“Lethal take can only make sense if we have a question that needs to be answered … a meaningful question,” said Mangel, who was called as a witness by Australia to the World Court, a U.N. body that settles legal disputes between nations.

Japan and Australia have both agreed to be bound by the Hague court’s verdict and activists are hoping for a ruling against Tokyo that they believe will put an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean.

One of only a handful of countries that continues to hunt whales, Japan says the 815-or-so whales it kills each year contribute to research designed to establish if whale stocks are recovering from previous over-hunting. The meat is eaten by the many Japanese consumers who consider it a delicacy.

Japan says its whaling is no threat to the survival of any species, but environmentalists and animal rights activists say whale hunting should be stopped completely.

Under a 1946 treaty on whaling, to which Japan is a signatory, countries can catch unlimited numbers of whales if they are needed for scientific purposes, regardless of the moratorium agreed in the 1980s.

The treaty does not address what counts as science. But lawyers for Australia said the collection of raw data without having in mind a specific question did not count.

“What you have before you is not a scientific research program. It is a heap of body parts taken from a pile of dead whales,” said Phillippe Sands, a lawyer for Australia.

Bid to cure HIV ramps up

Thanks;Erika Check Hayden
Published; 26 June 2013

20130628-165151.jpgA baby in Lesotho is given anti-HIV drugs at birth.
GIDEON MENDEL/CORBIS FOR UNICEF
HIV-positive mothers who take anti­retroviral therapies while pregnant can be prevented from transmitting the virus to their babies 99% of the time — a resounding success story in the decades-long fight against the virus. But what about infants whose mothers do not receive the drugs? Energized by the case of the ‘Mississippi baby’ — who seemed to be cured of HIV after aggressive treatment was begun within hours of birth — researchers are hoping to show that these infants, too, can get off to a healthy start.

At a symposium on HIV cure research on 29 June at the International AIDS Society’s biennial meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, investigators will describe how they are racing to design a clinical trial to test whether the early treatment works, and why. They hope to treat the first babies by the end of this year.

The trial, sponsored by the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials (IMPAACT) Group, marks a change for the field: so far, most research worldwide has focused on adults. In 2012, the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, spent US$18 million on HIV cure research in adults and adolescents, and just $45,000 on children. Yet 3.3 million children worldwide have HIV.

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“Children have been an afterthought,” says Jeffrey Safrit, director of clinical and basic research for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, who is based in Los Angeles, California. “But the immune system of the child might be more easily manipulated to allow a cure.”

This was highlighted in March, when virologist Deborah Persaud of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, Maryland, announced that a baby in Mississippi who received treatment for HIV within 31 hours of birth stopped medication at 18 months without the virus rebounding (see Nature http://doi.org/m2d; 2013). Researchers knew that early treatment could help infants to control HIV, but were surprised that they could essentially wipe it out from an infant’s body using existing drugs.

Early HIV treatment is helpful for patients of any age. It stops the virus from replicating before it can infect central memory T cells, the main immune-cell reservoir where HIV ‘hides’ from drugs. But researchers think that babies are better targets for HIV cures than adults because of their immature immune systems, which respond more mildly when provoked. Because the cells involved in this ‘inflammatory response’ are the same ones that are most susceptible to HIV, this could mean that infants are less prone to the infection spreading. Moreover, babies are born without central memory T cells, so they are likely to have a smaller reservoir of infected cells, says Mike McCune, an immunologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

The IMPAACT study, to be conducted across some of the group’s 71 sites worldwide, will screen and treat hundreds of babies to find 20–30 infants who have acquired HIV from untreated mothers or from those whose HIV was not well controlled during pregnancy. Because diagnosing HIV takes up to 7 days, all screened babies will automatically receive a similar treatment to the Mississippi baby: a cocktail of three drugs within 48 hours of birth. Physicians will add a fourth drug if babies then test positive for HIV. Around the age of three, the 20–30 children will be tested to see whether their immune systems make antibodies to HIV or if it can be detected in their blood. Those testing negative on both counts would then be taken off the drugs to see whether they can remain HIV-free.

The practical and ethical challenges of the trial are significant. Babies of untreated HIV-positive women have only a 15–30% chance of infection at birth, so the trial will need to recruit many babies to try to cure the few who are infected. Those who do not contract HIV will be treated anyway, perhaps exposing them to drug side effects. These are usually mild, but can deplete certain blood cells.

But children born to untreated HIV-positive women are already given up to three drugs after birth as a precaution. The potential for finding a cure far outweighs the risks of adding another drug, or of stopping treatment to test whether the cure has worked, says Yvonne Bryson, a physician at the Mattel Children’s Hospital at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-chair of the trial. “There’s much more benefit to be gained than risk,” she says.

Physicians are already considering changing the way they treat children infected by the virus. Bryson says that families of HIV-positive teenagers who were treated soon after birth and kept on medication are now asking that the teens be taken off the drugs.

Ultimately, the 34 million people worldwide who live with HIV could also benefit, researchers say. If it turns out that infants are more amenable to cures because they have a less active inflammatory response, that might encourage physicians to prescribe treatments that are less likely to trigger inflammation in adults, McCune says.

Bryson, who has worked on HIV since the first case was detected, thinks that the end could be in sight. “I saw patient zero,” Bryson says. “I’ve always been so excited to think that I would see the day that we would arrive at a cure, and I think we’re here.”

Britain plans world’s first go-ahead for ‘3-parent’ IVF babies

Thanks;Kate Kelland Reuters

Britain is planning to become the first country in the world to offer controversial “three-parent” fertility treatments to families who want to avoid passing on incurable diseases to their children.

The methods, currently only at the research stage in laboratories in Britain and the United States, would for the first time involve implanting genetically modified embryos into women, and raise serious ethical questions.

20130628-152936.jpgThe techniques involve intervening in the fertilization process to remove faulty mitochondrial DNA, which can cause inherited conditions such as fatal heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular dystrophy.

They are designed to help families with mitochondrial diseases – incurable conditions passed down the maternal line that affect around one in 6,500 children worldwide. Mitochondria act as tiny energy-generating batteries inside cells,

The controversial potential treatment is known as three-parent in vitro fertilization (IVF) because the offspring would have genes from a mother, a father and from a female donor.

After a national public consultation showed Britons broadly favor the idea, the government’s chief physician said on Friday it should be allowed to go ahead under strict regulation.

“Scientists have developed ground-breaking new procedures which could stop these diseases being passed on, bringing hope to many families seeking to prevent their children inheriting them,” Sally Davies, chief medical officer, told reporters.

“It’s only right that we look to introduce this life-saving treatment as soon as we can.”

Davies said the government’s health department is drafting regulations to cover the new treatments, and plans to publish them later this year. The move would make Britain the first country in the world to give patients to option of using so-called mitochondrial DNA transfer to avoid passing the diseases on to their children.

DNA SWAP

Scientists are researching several three-parent IVF techniques.

One being developed at Britain’s Newcastle University, known as pronuclear transfer, swaps DNA between two fertilized human eggs. Another, called maternal spindle transfer, swaps material between the mother’s egg and a donor egg before fertilization.

A British medical ethics panel which reviewed the potential treatments for mitochondrial diseases decided last year they were ethical and should go ahead as long as research shows they are likely to be safe and effective.

Because Britain is in the vanguard of this research, ethical concerns, political decisions and scientific advances here are closely watched around the world – particularly in the United States where scientists are also working on DNA swap techniques.

20130628-153042.jpgSome pro-life campaigners have criticized the scientific research, saying that creating embryonic children in a lab abuses them by subjecting them to unnatural processes.

Critics also worry that modifying embryos to avoid disease could be the first step towards the creation of “designer babies”, whose genetic makeup could be modified as embryos to ensure certain traits such as height or hair color.

Asked whether she was “comfortable” with taking such a major step along the way to allowing human genetic modification, Davies said she had debated and considered the ethical implications with many experts over many years and had come to the conclusion the techniques should be allowed.

Any final decision on putting the regulations in place to allow the new treatments to be offered will be subject to a vote in parliament, but Davies said she hoped the first patients may be able to get the new treatments within the next two years.

Govt bans popular diabetes drug and analgin

Vaniceseasonal's Blog

Thanks; Rupali Mukherjee, TNN
Published; Jun 27, 2013, 05.16 AM IST

MUMBAI: The government has banned three popular medicines—the widely prescribed anti-diabetes drug pioglitazone, painkiller analgin and anti-depressant deanxit—in the wake of health risks associated with them. While it’s believed that pioglitazone can cause heart failure and increases the risk of bladder cancer, analgin has been discarded the world over on grounds of patient safety. Deanxit, on the other hand is a harmful combination, which has been long banned even in Denmark, its country of origin.

This decision comes in the wake of a strong stand by the government on suspending marketing of all drugs prohibited for sale in other countries like the US, the UK, EU and Australia.

The ministry of health and family welfare has suspended the manufacture and sale of all three drugs under Section 26A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 with immediate effect, through…

View original post 447 more words

Govt bans popular diabetes drug and analgin

Thanks; Rupali Mukherjee, TNN
Published; Jun 27, 2013, 05.16 AM IST

MUMBAI: The government has banned three popular medicines—the widely prescribed anti-diabetes drug pioglitazone, painkiller analgin and anti-depressant deanxit—in the wake of health risks associated with them. While it’s believed that pioglitazone can cause heart failure and increases the risk of bladder cancer, analgin has been discarded the world over on grounds of patient safety. Deanxit, on the other hand is a harmful combination, which has been long banned even in Denmark, its country of origin.

This decision comes in the wake of a strong stand by the government on suspending marketing of all drugs prohibited for sale in other countries like the US, the UK, EU and Australia.

The ministry of health and family welfare has suspended the manufacture and sale of all three drugs under Section 26A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 with immediate effect, through a notification issued on June 18, informed sources told TOI. While the ministry has been dilly-dallying on withdrawing analgin and deanxit for years now, despite pressure from a parliamentary panel, the decision on the diabetes drug pioglitazone has taken the industry completely by surprise.

The decision to ban pioglitazone and its combinations will hit the Rs 700-crore market for such drugs and adversely impact a clutch of companies including Abbott, Sun Pharma, USV, Lupin, Ranbaxy and Wockhardt.

Pioglitazone combination is a bigger market than plain pioglitazone itself which is has posted a strong double-digit growth, with over 30 companies marketing the drug. The top-selling brands of posiglitazone include Pioz MF G and Pioz (USV), Gemer P (Sun Pharma), Tribet (Abbott), Tripride (Micro Labs) and Gluconorm PG (Lupin). (See chart)

Popular pain-reliever analgin is a relatively small market with brands like Baralgan and Novalgin (Sanofi Aventis), as most companies fearing a ban have already pulled out from the market, industry experts said. The third drug, a combination of Flupenthixol and Melitracen sold as Deanxit (Lundbeck), Placida (Mankind), Franxit (Intas) and Restfull (Lupin) is facing a ban because deanxit is prohibited for sale in Denmark, its country of origin, and also, the combination is not sold in major countries.

Under the Drugs and Cosmetic Rule 30-B, the import and marketing of any drug the use of which is prohibited in the country of origin, is banned in India. A parliamentary panel report on health earlier this year had rapped the government for dilly-dallying on withdrawing deanxit and analgin, which are not sold in markets globally.

The family of ‘glitazones’, used for blood glucose lowering properties, has been mired in controversy since the beginning, with many drugs under the class having already been banned globally, and in India. Three years back, another drug from this family, rosiglitazone, marketed by a host of companies including GSK India was banned, following a decision taken in Europe.

In the case of pioglitazone too, France has already taken it off the shelves, while in the US it is sold with a boxed warning. The warning emphasizes that it may cause or worsen heart failure, and its use for over a year may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.

Doctors here in India had said in a study last year that more robust data on use of pioglitazone on Indian patients was needed. Till that time, the patient should be adequately informed about this adverse effect and the drug should be used in as small a dose as possible, with careful monitoring and follow up. Earlier this month, the ministry had suspended sale of dextropropoxyphene, sold as Wockhardt’s Proxyvon, a widely-used pain-killer.