76 Life Saving Drugs to get expensive
The Finance Ministry has withdrawn exemption of 76 medicines from customs duties. The list includes 10 HIV drugs and at least four cancer drugs, but haemophilia patients are likely to be the most affected by the decision.
Haemophilia is a genetic disorder in which the patient tends to bleed excessively. Anti-haemophilic factor concentrates (VIII & IX) that are given to patients to control the bleeding are off the list.
Meanwhile, the withdrawal of exemption for anti-cancer and anti-retroviral (HIV/AIDS) medicines will not affect patients or drug prices as generic versions of these drugs are made in India.
Which medicines will get affected? Â – Â Putting old HIV or cancer medicines out of the list makes no difference as the generic versions are available in India at cheaper rates. This is a move to boost domestic competition among Indian drug-makers. The pressure will be on patients who do not have an alternative source. They already pay out of pocket and piling duty on them seems a move that has not been well-thought out.
Haemophilia patients are likely to be the most affected by the decision.
What will be the effect on the Indian pharma industry? – The tax of 22% on import will result in drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients(APIs) becoming more expensive. So on one hand it will increase the price competitiveness of Indian generics. But on the other hand it could push up the cost of generic medicines being manufactured in SEZs which use foreign APIs Â to manufacture drugs.
Pictorial warning on beedi packets
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued a fresh Government Order, number 729, instructing all beedi companies to print bigger pictorial warning signs, occupying 85 per cent of the package space from April 1,2016.
The beedi companies in various parts of Telangana have decided to close down their units from February 15 to protest the Union Health Ministryâ€™s direction to carry a larger pictorial warning – crossed bones and skull – and images of damaged chest and mouth cancer on beedi packets.
In March, the government had indefinitely delayed the implementation of bigger pictorial warnings, pending the decision of a parliamentary committee which was examining the issue.
The committee looked into the contentious issue of amendment to the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Rules, 2008, to increase the size of pictorial warnings from the current 40 per cent to 85 per cent as recommended earlier.
Effectiveness of Pictorial warnings – Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the world, causing nearly six million deaths each year. While tobacco product packaging is a key part of marketing efforts to make tobacco use appealing, regulators can use that same packaging to communicate the health risks of tobacco products to consumers. A pack-a-day smoker potentially sees a cigarette pack an estimated 7300 times per year (20 views/dayÃ—365â€…days/year). Messages on these packs would generate exposure far outweighing exposure from other anti tobacco communications, such as mass media campaigns.
Impact on the industry – The beedi industry, already in doldrums following the invasion of mini-cigarettes, will suffer a serious setback if the pictorial warning signs occupy 85 per cent space on packets, companies argue. At present, the pictorial warning occupies only 50 per cent package space.
Some representations point out that bidi was made from natural material and was less harmful than cigarettes. However being a poor man’s smoke, a visual warning was more relevant on bidi bundles consumed by illiterate masses.
Source: TheHindu, Economic Times
The Rohingya refugee crisis has become a â€œregional issue involving countries of South and Southeast Asia,â€ a recent report on the community said, putting the number of Rohingyas living in India at 40,000-50,000.
The report, â€˜Rohingyas: The Emergence of a Stateless Community,â€™ prepared by Calcutta Research Group, an independent research organisation, says that the number of families settled in different Indian States is 10,565. According to the latest data, 6,684 families of the community have settled in Jammu and Kashmir, 1,755 in Andhra Pradesh, 760 in Delhi and 361 in West Bengal.
It says 32,000 Rohingyas registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are residing in Bangladesh, and three-five lakh people of the community live outside the formal camps in that country.
Who are the Rohingyas? – The Rohingya people are Indo-Aryan peoples from the Rakhine State, Myanmar, who speak the Rohingya language. According to Rohingyas and some scholars, they are indigenous to Rakhine State, while other historians claim that they migrated to Myanmar from Bengal primarily during the period of British rule in Burma, and to a lesser extent, after the Burmese independence in 1948 and Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
What is the Rohinya insurgency? – The Rohingya insurgency in Western Myanmar is an ongoing conflict between the government of Myanmar and insurgents of the Rohingya ethnic minority in Rakhine State (also known as Arakan), Myanmar (Burma).
From 1947 to 1961, local Mujahideen insurgents fought government forces in an attempt to have the mostly Rohingya populated Mayu region in northern Rakhine State secede from Myanmar, and have it be annexed by the newly formed East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh).
Around 800,000 Rohingyas live in Myanmar, around 80% of whom live in Rakhine State. Nearly all of them have been denied citizenship by the government, as the government does not recognize Rohingyas as a distinct ethnic group originating from Myanmar, but rather as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Source: TheHindu, Wikipedia
IMD to bring out summer forecasts
The India Meteorological Department – best known for its monsoon forecasts – will issue a summer forecast for April, May and June. In mid-March, the IMD will send out a colour-coded map of India, showing how temperatures in different regions of the country are likely to deviate from whatâ€™s normal, during summer months. These numbers would be updated every five days.
The IMD does give warnings about imminent heatwaves and dry weather but these are no more than five days ahead. The key factor to forecasting weather a few months ahead is in ensuring that the computerised weather models are consistently able to simulate the weather as it actually plays out.
The IMD officially expunged the word â€œdroughtâ€ from its vocabulary, months after it correctly forecast one of Indiaâ€™s severest monsoon deficits last year.
What will be the benefit? – Such a forecast may not be of much help to farmers – who rely on IMDâ€™s rain forecasts to make sowing decisions and donâ€™t plant their crops in these months – the information would be useful to power companies, several service-sector industries and state planners whoâ€™d like a heads-up on possible water shortages.
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