Tuesday, August 29, 2006




Spuce: Alleviates exhaustion, anxiety and debility. Penetrates stagnate conditions with its warmthSoothing, appeasing, warming, uplifting, grounding

Fir: Encourages a connection with nature, relieves anxiety, promotes good willWarming, grounding, appeasing, refreshing, reviving

Cedar: Encourages wisdom, resilience and balanceStrong, calming, stabilizing, comforting. A Cedar tree:

Sage: Revives energy and inspires mind and spiritRevitalizing, inspiring, but also relaxing

Ginger: Encourages determination and confidence. Combats depression and disconnectedness. Sharpens memory.Stimulating, warming, grounding

Grapefruit: Relieves tension, frustration and moodiness. Promotes lightness of spirit and clarity of thoughtCleansing, refreshing, soothing, uplifting, purifying

Lavender: Relieves frustration, irritability, anxiety and insomniaAppeasing, balancing, calming, purifying, relaxing, sedative, soothing

Peppermint: Stimulates the body and clears the mindSoothing, stimulating

Rose: Enhances feelings of love and compassion. Relieves melancholy and depressionCalming, sedating

Rosemary: Improves confidence, perception and balance between body and mind Encourages creativity and alleviates exhaustion and lethargyStimulating, balancing

Sandalwood: Good for worry and nervous exhaustion.Cooling, calming, balancing, uplifting, purifying. Sandalwood tree:
sandalwood tree

Vanilla: Eases anger and frustrationCreamy, rich, warm, nurturing

Friday, August 25, 2006


Patent on Cancer drug opposed

The success of activists in forcing GlaxoSmithKline to withdraw the patent application for its HIV/AIDS drug combivir in India is now spurring on others.

Cancer patients and non-government organisations have decided to rally against Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, which has filed a case in Madras high court, asking that it be granted a patent for the crucial cancer drug, Gleevec.

Cancer patients have come together against the firm, arguing that such a move would threaten future access to affordable medicines. On May 19, 2006, Novartis had filed seven cases in the court, against the government, Cancer Patients Aid Association and generic manufacturers, challenging the rejection of its Gleevec patent application. Gleevec is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia, a life threatening form of cancer. It is a $2.2 billion drug, posting double-digit growth figures.

The drug helps in prolonging the life of cancer patients. Several Indian pharma firms like Natco, Cipla, Ranbaxy and Hetero produce the generic equivalent.
While Gleevec sells for around Rs 1.2 lakh per patient per month, a generic drug costs Rs 9,000 per patient per month.

In 1998, Novartis had filed its first application for a patent on Gleevec. It had applied for exclusive marketing rights (EMR). Based on application and a provision of Indian Patents Act, Novartis in 2003 obtained an EMR for five years.

Several cancer groups including Cancer Patients Aid Association challenged the move, arguing that patient's access to generic Gleevec would be affected as a consequence of the EMR.
Moreover, they held that Gleevec contains b-crystalline form of the compound Imatinib Meyslate and according to the protesters, it was no different from the existing generic compounds to warrant a patent.

In January 2006, Chennai patent office rejected the patent application on the ground that the application claimed 'only a new form of an old drug' and rejected its patentability. With Novartis filing a fresh patent application, activist groups are concerned now.

"India, which is turning out to be a beacon of hope for natins like Korea in its supply of generic medicines, is having to fight a battle on its own turf," an official, Medicines Sans Frontiers said.

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Neonatal Jaundice treatment

Gini light
An inexpensive device to treat neonatal jaundice, developed by an Indian boy, can save the lives of millions of poor children across the world.

Vijay Anand, a student of Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, US, has developed a light unit for $500. With the standard light to treat neonatal jaundice costing $4,000 a piece, hospitals, especially in poor and under-developed countries, cannot afford to buy them.

As a result, thousands of babies never get treatment and eventually suffer serious brain damage, deafness and even death. Vijay's discovery has won him a whopping $1,00,000 prize at the Duke startup challenge cure competition. The affordable medical device will now be an established business model to distribute the lights to Third World countries. "I realised that the US was ahead of us in the medical device industry for many years and that prompted me to invent this low-cost device.

At present, I am incubating the project at the Duke university. I will use the seed money of $1,00,000 to establish a company called Photogenesis that will commercialise and distribute the lights to the third world countries," Vijay, who belongs to Bangalore, told TOI from the US.

Exposing infants suffering from neonatal jaundice to bright light - phototherapy - is nothing new, except that these devices are expensive and several countries rely on the US for their supply. "All I did was strip the bells and whistles from the device, use the already introduced LEDs to make an affordable device," he said.

After completing his BE in medical electronics at the M S Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore, Vijay chose to move to health sector management while doing his post-graduation at Duke university. His initial prototypes are installed in a hospital in Tanzania. The project has the support of both Duke and Stanford universities.

As Vijay's parents Shashikala Anand and Anand Sivappa, who live in Bangalore, put it, "He has not only brought light to our lives, but to millions of infants suffering from jaundice."


Tuesday, August 15, 2006


ARV medicines for children

Pharma major Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited on Monday announced that it had received approval to manufacture and market Triviro-LNS kid and Triviro-LNS kid DS, both triple ARV combinations — indicated for treatment of HIV infection — for children in India. The company has also filed the product with WHO Geneva for pre-qualification.

While Triviro-LNS kid contains Lamivudine 20mg, Nevirapine 35mg, and Stavudine 5mg, Triviro-LNS kid DS contains the drugs in 40mg, 70mg and 10mg strengths, respectively. The products are bio-equivalent with the individual liquid formulations of the originators.

"We hope that with these new formulations, we will be able to make accessible, a high quality and convenient treatment to a large number of HIV-positive children who are presently among the therapeutically most neglected,'' RLL CMD Malvinder Mohan Singh said.

While convenient triple fixed dose combinations are widely available for adults, children have so far had to largely rely on cumbersome options such as simultaneously taking three different liquid ARV drugs or crushing and taking unpalatable adult triple drug formulations, an activity that does not deliver the three drugs in a ratio that is optimal for children.



Mizoram famine

bamboo flowering

Fear of famine stalks Mizoram with the completion of bamboo flowering and resultant depletion of the stock of staple diet of the rodent population which could now turn to paddy in a big way. Even octogenarian local agriculture and pest scientist C Rokhuma, who is known as ‘Pied Piper of Mizoram’, expressed helplessness as the government, while initiating numerous measures to combat the coming famine, neglected the killing of rats.

According to Rokhuma and other village elders, who had witnessed the last Mautam famine half a century before, the key to mitigate the impact of famine is to kill as many rats as possible. Mautam in Mizo language means ‘death of the bamboos’ (Mau means bamboo and tam means death) and 6,000 sq km of Mizoram's total area of 21,087 sq km is covered with bamboo and the bamboo growing stock in the state is estimated at a staggering 25.26 million tonnes.

Reports of outbreak of caterpillars, hemipteran bug and grasshoppers, regarded as harbinger of the impending famine, have been pouring in from different parts of the state since 2004. Leaf-rolling caterpillars and grasshoppers can cause extensive damage to paddy. Male rats feed on their weak young ones but with an alternative meal (bamboo seeds) readily available, they leave their babies alone and the rodent population increased manifold, Rokhuma said.

Scientific studies say gregarious flowering of bamboo brings famine. “The gregarious flowering of bamboo produces large quantity of seeds which in turn causes sudden population explosion of rats,” a report said.

“However, the quantity of seeds available for rats diminishes soon on the germination of seeds after the rains. The resultant short supply of bamboo seeds on the one hand and a large population of rats on the other makes rats head towards farmlands causing widespread loss to the crops.”

James Lalsiamliana, a scientist in the state agriculture department, told PTI that caterpillars rolled paddy leaves damaging the chlorophyll and could result in mass crop failure where swarms of the leaf rollers attack large areas.
flowering bamboo

The bamboo flowering has completed in the eastern and north-eastern parts of the state where population of rats was already witnessed, he said adding rats were reported to have attacked paddy stems in Champhai district. “Bamboo not only flowered in the area, but sprouts have come up after the seeds fell and germinated on the grounds,” Lalsiamliana said.

He, however, added that in the western parts sporadic flowering of bamboo was witnessed. Lalsiamliana also said that “more rats means more mouths, and thus their only alternative is to attack the paddy fields and granaries.”


Friday, August 04, 2006


marriage with blood relations

With regard to this story on the need for a ban on marriages between cousins in the British Pakistani community it has been known for a long time that such marriages produce children with defects. Even in this modern age Pakistani Punjabis continue with marriages between first cousins——such marriages took place in the past among a few Indian communities (but usually with a maternal cousin) but not anymore.

In most of India, marriage with a blood relation has been considered a crime from the ancient times. As per modern Hindu law the couple must be separated by seven generations for the marriage to be legal. Some communities, like the Rajputs, continue their tradition of not marrying within clans even if the seven generation rule is satisfied. In the past different anecdotes from medeival Indian History relate that the required gap was 25, 50, and sometimes even a 100 generations!

Some years ago (1997) the marriage of Princess Diya Kumari of Jaipur raised a storm in Rajput society. She married Narendra Singh, a Rajput of the same Kachwaha clan as the princess, but of a different branch separated by several generations. There have been other less common instances of marriage within clans but as long as these are supported by the seven generation rule these unions should be accepted.

The tradition of the past was that clan branches would migrate to other regions to set up their own kingdoms, and after several centuries had passed, would be eligible to marry with their parent clan. In all this time that separated clan's inter-marrige with the warriors of the conquered region would have ensured genetic diversity. Of course today we would need some other method of diversifying gene pools since the earlier identities of clan and gotra are unknown to the yuppies in the cities.

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