“Breakthrough” in skin cancer drug trials

by Admin 3. June 2014 10:26

The trials of two new skin cancer drugs have seen high survival rates, prompting specialists to herald a “breakthrough” in treating the disease.

Positive results in two international clinical trials of potential skin cancer treatments been heralded as a “breakthrough” by health professionals, raising hopes of new treatments for those with the hard-to-treat disease.

Two experimental drugs, pembrolizumab and nivolumab, were tested on groups of patients with advanced melanoma, with results showing high levels of patients surviving a year on the treatments.

In the pembrolizumab trial, 69% of patients survived at least a year, prompting Dr David Chao, a consultant oncologist at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, claiming the drug had “potential to be a paradigm shift for cancer therapy”.

Nivolumab was tested on 53 patients, with 85% surviving a year and 79% surviving two years. The combination treatment has since been described by John Wagstaff, professor of medical oncology at Swansea College of Medicine, as “a breakthrough in treating melanoma.”

However, the researchers are urging caution, with the positive results coming from early stage trials of the treatments. Phase III trials of the drugs are currently underway, with a report due in 2015 that will offer a clearer picture of the potential of these experimental drugs.

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Drugs | News

Alzheimer’s breakthrough imminent?

by Admin 2. June 2014 16:25

AFFiRiS AG will present final clinical Phase II data of its proprietary Alzheimer's therapy on Wednesday 4 June in Vienna, Austria.

Over 300 patients were included in the international multi-centric clinical trial and significant effects have been observed.

Data will be presented by Dr Walter Schmidt, CEO and Co-founder, AFFiRiS AG and Dr Frank Mattner, CSO and Co-founder, AFFiRiS AG.

The conference will take place at the Vienna Marriott Hotel at 10.00 am CEST. Those who are unable to attend will be able to view a live webcast of the press conference. There will also be a message board available to web visitors, allowing them to participate in the Q & A round. 

AFFiRiS AG develops tailor-made peptide vaccines (and more) for Alzheimer's disease, Atherosclerosis, Parkinson's disease, diabetes and several other conditions with urgent requirement for new treatments and attractive market volumes. Alzheimer's is the current lead indication. 

Further news on the implications of these data will be reported on Pf.

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Drugs | News

Top neurosurgeon quits over elf ‘n’ safety “shambles”

by Admin 2. June 2014 12:08

A top neurosurgeon has said that the real reason he is leaving the NHS is because he was told he could not wear a wrist watch at work due to health and safety regulations.

Eminent neurosurgeon Henry Marsh is leaving his job in March 2015 to work pro bono in Ukraine after saying that he can bear the red tape and health and safety regulations which will not allow him to wear a wrist watch at work, amongst other commonly worn items of clothing.

Mr Marsh said that the health service had become shambles. The straw that broke the camel’s back was receiving a 22 page dress code which banned ties, long sleeves and watches.

Mr Marsh admitted to an audience at the Hay Festival: “We were threatened with disciplinary action for wearing a wrist watch and not having our sleeves rolled up even though there is no evidence that makes any difference.

"So that's really why I am retiring next year. It's such a shambles anyway but that was just too much.”

Mr Marsh also said that government cuts were threatening surgery. "Because of the lack of beds you are often cancelling operations,” he said.

He also blasted the Working Time Directive, which limits the number of hours that doctors can work, saying that the number of hours made it impossible to train new surgeons properly.

“They are still supposed to complete their training in six years, but that is completely unrealistic,” he added.

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News | NHS

New President of Novartis Oncology

by Admin 2. June 2014 09:42

Novartis has announced the appointment of Bruno Strigini as President of Novartis Oncology, with immediate effect. 

Mr Strigini has 25 years of experience of leading in both international and local roles in pharmaceuticals, animal health, OTC and vaccines. He joins Novartis from Merck & Co where he most recently served as president for Europe/Canada, a region comprising 37 countries with over 10,000 associates.

Mr Strigini brings with him a global perspective on the healthcare industry, with expertise across diverse geographies, including both mature and emerging markets. 

Throughout his career, Bruno Strigini has held increasingly senior executive positions in a number of companies, including Schering-Plough, UCB-Celltech and SmithKline Beecham.

His previous roles have included President of International Operations, President of Japan and Asia-Pacific, and Senior Vice-President and Head of Global Marketing & Business Development, as well as Managing Director positions in New Zealand, the UK and Spain.

He is a member of the Executive Committee for the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries & Associations (EFPIA), as well as a member of the Académie Nationale de Pharmacie in France.


Mr Strigini holds an MBA from IMD, Lausanne (Switzerland); a doctorate degree in pharmacy from the University of Montpellier (France), and a master's degree in microbiology from Heriot-Watt University (UK).

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News | Personnel

Elderly care central to NHS new boy’s vision

by Admin 30. May 2014 14:32

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens places elderly care at the centre of health service reorganisation.

During a recent interview for The Telegraph, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens stressed the importance of elderly care service reorganisation in creating “a modern health service”, viewing the rapidly ageing population as the NHS’ biggest challenge.  

Stevens criticised a health system failing to meet the needs of the elderly, suggesting that too many older patients were ending up in hospital because community services were “too complicated and too fragmented”, with the NHS failing to offer adequate support for patients.

“You cannot have a modern health service that is not treating older patients with dignity and compassion, supporting them at home and ensuring targeted prevention,” he said.

Stevens said the problems with elderly care provision offered a “big opportunity to reorganise” services, suggesting that improvements in care could be achieved by “redesigning jobs as well as services”.

However, the new chief executive resisted the idea of a national strategy for redesigning care services, suggesting that the health service needed to “experiment” with different ways of working and resist “centralisation” to ensure care is tailored to the needs of the community.

In a speech to the NHS Confederation next week, Stevens will outline a series of new models of care which individual communities can adopt to reorganise care services in their area. Further details on the new care models will be published later this year.

Simon Stevens took on the role of chief executive of NHS England in April. He told The Telegraph he was attracted to the role because “the NHS is at a defining moment, a point when it needs to ‘future proof’ itself against the challenges ahead”. Stevens replaced Sir David Nicholson, who left the post in March.  

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News | NHS

MHRA’s £8.6 million drugs haul

by Admin 30. May 2014 11:31

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) enforcement team has seized £8.6 million of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines in the UK.

The haul includes large amounts of potentially harmful slimming pills and controlled drugs such as diazepam and anabolic steroids. The crackdown, reported this week on BBC1’s The One Show, was part of a week-long international crackdown this month on the illegal internet trade of medicines that resulted in a global seizure total of approximately £18.6 million.

The operation - Operation Pangea VII - was coordinated through Interpol and resulted in the arrests of 237 people worldwide.  The sting also targeted 10,603 websites that were illegally selling counterfeit and unlicensed medicines and led to them being closed down or suspended through having their domain name or payment facility removed.

The MHRA’s Head of Enforcement, Alastair Jeffrey, said: “Operation Pangea is the global response to internet facilitated medicines crime. During a week of action we have seized £8.6 million worth of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines, shut down 1,891 websites operating illegally and removed nearly 20,000 links to these sites that were supported by social media platforms.

“Criminals involved in the illegal supply of medicines through the internet aren’t interested in your health; they are interested in your money, whether they get this through selling you a potentially dangerous counterfeit or unlicensed drug or through stealing your bank details.” 

Mr Jeffrey called for people to resist the lure of buying medicines on the internet: “To protect your health, visit your GP, get a correct diagnosis and buy medicines from a legitimate high street or online pharmacy.”


Drugs | News

Diabetic kidney disease test shows benefits in studies

by Admin 30. May 2014 10:16

EKF Diagnostics has announced that the findings of new studies validate its early-stage test for progressive diabetic kidney disease.

Independent research has shown that the soluble TNF receptors 1 and 2 are strong biomarkers of progressive diabetic kidney disease. These biomarkers can be relied upon as diagnostic tests to predict end-stage renal disease up to a decade in advance.

Original research by the Joslin Diabetes Center has now been substantiated by a number of newly published high-impact studies which underline the strong association of elevated sTNFR1/2 levels with the subsequent development of advanced diabetic kidney disease in type 1 and 2 diabetic patients.

The use of EKF's sTNFR1 test, a microtitre plate, ELISA-based assay that uses monoclonal antibodies, is supported and validated by the studies.

Chief executive officer of EKF Diagnostics, Julian Baines, said: "Our sTNFR1 test has already been shown to add greatly to information provided by standard clinical criteria, allowing clinicians to pinpoint patients who need the most care as early as possible."


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Drugs | General | News

Less drinkers, more drugs

by Admin 29. May 2014 15:36

The cost of alcohol dependence drugs for the NHS continues to rise despite a falling number of regular drinkers.

Figures recently released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) on alcohol show the NHS faces rising prescription costs despite the percentage of adults drinking regularly continuing to fall.

The data, published within Statistics on Alcohol – England 2014, reports the NHS spent £3.13m on prescription drugs to treat those with alcohol dependence in 2012, a rise of £200,000 on the previous year. In 2013, more than 183,000 items were prescribed.

The rising cost of drugs contrasts to the decline in the percentage of adults drinking regularly – between 2005 and 2012, the percentage of men drinking five times a week dropped from 22% to 14%, with the percentage of women admitting the same dropping from 13% to 9%. The number of deaths from alcohol also reduced by 4% over the same period to 6,490.

Kingsley Manning, chair of the HSCIC, said the report “highlights one of the areas of impact that alcohol dependence has on our NHS.”

“The fact there has been a rise of nearly 70% in the prescribing of alcohol dependence drugs over the last decade is striking.”   

“These data provide an insight into the effect of alcohol on services and will offer better understanding to the public, health professionals and policymakers into this ongoing public health issue,” he added.  

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News | NHS

World MS Day: Novartis Launches 7-Day Challenge to Live Like You

by Admin 29. May 2014 11:51

Novartis has announced the launch of the 7-Day Challenge to Live Like You for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in support of World MS Day.

The 7-Day Challenge is one of the first integrations of emerging technological trends by a pharmaceutical company. During the challenge people with MS are invited to track their activities for seven days and gain valuable insights into what works best for their lifestyle using wearable technology or accessing personal online systems that people use on a daily basis. These systems include calendars, social media channels and fitness trackers.

The challenge addresses the growing desire within the MS community to gather personalised information that will allow them to make decisions on how they can manage their lives with MS. This information can help with symptom management and facilitate small changes that could help in achieving meaningful results.

World MS Day was created by the Multiple Sclerosis International Foundation (MSIF) in 2009 to raise global awareness of MS and its impact on approximately 2.3 million people with the condition around the world. This year's World MS Day campaign focuses on 'access'. 

David Epstein, Division Head, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, said: "Novartis is a proud supporter of World MS Day, and we recognise the value of providing access to personalised information for the MS community.

"We are delighted to announce the launch of the 7-Day Challenge to Live Like You, which will empower the MS community to gain valuable insights about themselves and their MS."

The challenge is a collaboration between Novartis and Tictrac, an innovative technology company with expertise in tracking user data and turning the data into unique perceptions, for example: 'you're more active after a good night's sleep', that can help people with MS better understand their lifestyle in order to make small changes based on these new insights. 

Novartis also recently launched Living Like You (livinglikeyou.com), an online resource community that features personal content for the MS community.


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General | News

NHS maintenance staff strike over “loss of pay”

by Admin 29. May 2014 11:11

Around 25 NHS maintenance staff employed at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool have started six days of strike action in their continuing dispute over a claimed “£3,200 loss of wages”.

Members of Unite, including electricians, plumbers, technicians and maintenance staff, began their strike on Wednesday morning and plan to strike until Tuesday 3 June.

The dispute goes back to April 2013 when the national recruitment and retention payment in place since 2004 - which was designed to ensure that NHS maintenance staff received wages comparable to outside industry - was unilaterally removed, with the proviso that local employers negotiated their own deals.

This has not happened at Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust however, which has meant that the maintenance staff has lost nearly 20 per cent of income – about £3,200 – which would be additional to basic pay of £19,000 to £22,000 a year. 

The NHS employees are working-to-rule and already took strike action earlier this month in pursuit of their claim for a fair deal.

Unite regional officer, Keith Hutson, said: “It is a scandal that these workers, providing vital hospital maintenance, are losing £3,200-a-year from their pay as the cost of living crisis continues unabated.

“Many of our members are struggling to make ends meet. They are skilled workers who are not earning a fortune. 

“The strike won’t affect patient care, however, it is causing disruption at the hospital as it means that managers are being forced to cover for our members and work out-of-hours.

“Unite has had talks with the trust management and our door remains open for a constructive dialogue to ensure that our hardworking members are not out-of-pocket.”


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News | NHS


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