Editor in Chief Dr KK Aggarwal, Padma Shri Awardee

Dated: 7th July, 2019

Biomarkers in the blood may help predict recovery time after concussion

Biomarkers - interleukin 6 and interleukin 1 receptor antagonist - in the blood may have potential use in identifying which players are more likely to need a longer recovery time after concussion, suggests a study published in the July 3, 2019, online issue of the journal Neurology.

The study involved 41 high school and college football players who experienced a concussion during the season. None of the players lost consciousness with their concussions. The tests looked at levels of seven biomarkers for inflammation that have been related to more severe brain injury.

Of the seven biomarkers, two - interleukin 6 and interleukin 1 receptor antagonist - were elevated for those with concussion at 6 hours after the injury compared to the athletes with no concussion. For interleukin 6, baseline levels were 0.44 pg/mL for those who later had concussions and 0.40 pg/mL for those who did not have concussions. At 6 hours after the injury, those with concussions had levels of 1.01 pg/mL, compared to levels of 0.39 at a similar time for those without concussions.

Athletes with higher levels of interleukin 6 six hours after the injury were also more likely to take longer to recover from their symptoms. Eight of the 17 athletes with concussion and high interleukin 6 levels at six hours after injury, compared to their levels at the beginning of the season, still had concussion symptoms eight days after the injury.

Delhi High Court takes cognizance of two PILs filed by Heart Care Foundation of India

Recently, the Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) had filed two PILs on issues of public health importance.

On 3rd of this month, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Delhi High Court had strictly directed Central Government to prepare a “partial list” of Over the Counter (OTC) Drugs by September 12. Currently no such list is available by the government and the chemists and pharmacists are dispensing the schedule drugs on the plea that they do not have a list of OTC drugs where medical prescription is not required. The Central Government has filed its counter affidavit in which the Government had stated that it has constituted committee for the formulation of law on OTC drugs, however, the minutes of the meetings conducted by the sub-committee are under preparation. The central government standing counsel representing the health ministry told the court that the sub-committee's report was being examined by another sub-committee which shall give its final report in three months to the DCC which will forward it to the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) for further consideration.

However, the bench was not impressed and said that going by the status report shown to it, the government appears to "have not understood what they (doctors) are asking for". "As things stand today, it is not that difficult to provide a list of OTC drugs," the court said......read more

Healthcare News Monitor

Budget allocation for health sector not very encouraging: Dr KK Aggarwal

Business Standard- ANI

Dr KK Aggarwal, president of Healthcare Foundation of India, on Friday said that the fund allocation for the health sector in Union Budget is not very encouraging this time. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday declared a total of Rs 62,659.12 crore for the health sector in 2019-2020 Budget. Last year, the government had allocated Rs 54,302.50 crore for the health sector. Dr Aggarwal said: "Health budget is not very encouraging this time. There was no mention of Muzaffarpur health crisis. Primary and emergency healthcare was nearly untouched. Healthcare budget should have been 2 per cent of the GDP." The Finance Minister has earmarked Rs 6,400 crore for the Centre's ambitious health insurance scheme -- Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY). The AB-PMJAY is a flagship scheme of the Union government that aims to provide a health cover up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation to over 10.74 crore vulnerable families, approximately 50 crore beneficiaries.

Union Budget 2019: Doctors disappointed with lack of incentives for healthcare sector

The Indian Express- Anuradha Mascarenhas

Doctor’s Associations rued that the Union Budget, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday, hardly touched upon the health sector. Dr Arun Gadre, a coordinator from the Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Health Care, said the absence of any incentive for healthcare, even after the AES deaths in Gorakhpur and Muzaffarpur, is shocking. Sitharaman on Friday announced Rs 62,659.12 crore out- lay for the health sector in the 2019-2020 fiscal. The health outlay for this financial year saw an increase of around 19 per cent over the 2018-2019 fiscal when it was Rs 52,800 crore. “The government has declared that it will increase the health budget to 2.5 per cent of the GDP in the coming five years. If this has to happen, the Budget outlay needs to increase by 30 per cent each year,” Gadre added.

No booster shot for pharma and biotech

The Times of India

The pharma and biotech sector that was desperately waiting for a booster shot was left high and dry by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s maiden budget. What left captains of the sector even more disappointed was the fact that not only did the sector not get a mention, the FM did not have anything significant to say about healthcare, considered one of the pillars of the economy. companies to invest in R&D. It’s a shame, especially when the government is talking about spurring innovation in the country.” VV Ravi Kumar, ED & CFO, Laurus Labs, said the sector was feeling let down as the government did not keep its promise to reduce corporate tax to 25% for all companies, and there was no encouragement for R&D spending. “This means bigger pharma companies will continue to lose out... and will have less in their hands to plough back into R&D.” Though there were no new announcements specific to healthcare and biotech/life sciences, Prasanna Deshpande, deputy managing director, Indian Immunologicals, said: “In the interim budget earlier this year, an allocation of Rs 61,398 crore was announced for healthcare for 2019-20, which was a 16% increase from last year’s allocation. This shows that healthcare has a strong focus for the government.” Ram Kaundinya, DG, Federation of Seed Industry of India, felt the Budget should at least have laid thrust on usage of science and technology to boost growth in agri-biotech sector. However, die-hard optimists like Anu Acharya, CEO, Mapmygenome, said though there was no direct announcement for the sector, the plan to set up a National Research Foundation will give a boost to the sector.

In fillip to traditional medicine, AYUSH ministry gets

Business Standard- PTI

The Modi government's aim to provide a fillip to traditional alternative medicine reflected in the Union Budget 2019-20 Friday as the AYUSH Ministry saw around 15 per cent hike in budgetary allocation from the last fiscal. An outlay of Rs 1,939.76 crore has been earmarked for the Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) sector in the current financial, an increase of 14.59 per cent over the revised estimates of Rs 1,692.77 crore of the last fiscal. The government allocated Rs 40 crore for the All India Institute of Ayurveda, New Delhi, for financial year 2019-2020, while Rs 50 crore was earmarked for the National Institute of Homoeopathy in Kolkata. For strengthening of AYUSH Delivery Systems, the Centre granted Rs 92.31 crore. The government had earmarked budget estimates of Rs 71.36 crore in 2018-19 which was later revised and increased to Rs 101.86 crore. Strengthening of AYUSH Delivery Systems include assistance to accredited AYUSH Centres, Central Drug Controller for AYUSH, development of common facilities for AYUSH Industry Clusters and promotion of international cooperation. The funds earmarked for statutory and regulatory bodies -- Central Council of Homeopathy and Central Council of Indian Medicine-- is Rs 8.90 crore compared to the revised estimates of Rs 8.89 crore in the last fiscal.

Soon, single-doctor clinics, small nursing homes can’t sell branded pills

The New Indian Express- Sumi Sukanya dutta

The Centre has decided to bar medical practitioners at single-doctor clinics and small nursing homes that don’t have registered pharmacies, from selling branded medicines or vaccines to patients. The decision came following widespread complaints that doctors sell pills to patients without having drug licences, in the name of dispensing medicines, taking advantage of ambiguous norms. To remove the ambiguity, the government intends to suitably amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. The new proposal approved by the drug consultative committee under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, will limit doctors to supplying only generic medicines or physician samples for free. Schedule K of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act at present allows doctors to sell medicines to patients even without a drug licence or without billing patients separately for the medicines sold. “Currently, there is no specific category that can be supplied by registered medical practitioners to their patients,” it was noted by the committee in a meeting last month, as per its minutes accessed by this newspaper. The panel headed by the Drug Controller General of India agreed to amend the clause to specify the medicines - only generic and physician samples - that doctors can offer to patients. “Following the decision, we are in the process of notifying the amendment,” said a ministry official. Though there is no exact data on single- or multi-doctor establishments where the practitioner dispenses drugs, a ballpark estimate by officials suggested the figure across India could cross two lakh. Doctors do not seem happy. “This decision will cause lots of difficulties to single-clinic practitioners as well as hospitals having licensed medical shops as it will lead to unnecessary harassment from the drug control authority and could lead to a jump in cases under the Consumer Protection Act,” said Ravi Wankhedkar, Indian Medical Association member.

Horror Stories of Overworked Kolkata Docs: Patients at Huge Risk

The Quint-Meghnad Boseishadrita Lahiri

A young doctor confesses, “After a 24-hour shift, I had to go to the Operation Theatre for more work. But I was so tired that I went there and asked for permission to sleep. I slept in the OT under the table, and it’s horrible that I had to do that.” India’s junior doctors are inhumanly overworked. It’s severely harming their own health, and the quality of healthcare provided to their patients. Despite being in a profession where their mistakes can cost lives, there is hardly any attention being paid to this deadly medical crisis. These are voices of young post-graduate doctors from Kolkata’s top medical colleges. A 27-year-old doctor who recently completed his post-graduate Master of Surgery (MS) course, reveals the toll it takes on the doctors, “There’s an inhuman workload on junior doctors. They are doing continuous shifts of up to 36 hours and 48 hours at one stretch. And this is happening routinely. They are made to do 24 hours of on-call duty, ward work and emergency duty and then right after that (24 hours into their shift), they are made to work in the Operation Theatre. So, they are operating in the Emergency Room and the OT under stress and in a completely sleep-deprived condition. It’s immense pressure. Many friends of mine could not cope up with this and a few of them even tried to commit suicide.”