Recently, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority capped the prices of 42 unscheduled cancer drugs through a trade margin rationalisation. In a similar move, prices of medical devices – knee caps and stents – were also capped in 2018, despite US pressure to rescind the move.
Price capping is obviously welcome news to patients. However, it can also lead to some serious adverse effects such as compromising on quality, reducing product availability or market concentration and decreasing spend on development of new products. A report by IMS Health – a leading healthcare market research agency, reveals that price-control measures by NPPA has ensured a 75% decline in new drug launches since 2011. Further, ambiguity in rule-making discourages foreign manufacturers from entering the Indian market. Finally, medical devices or drugs are only a component of the medical bill of a patient and merely controlling that is insufficient. For example, though stent prices have been slashed by up to 50%, in some cases medical bills have remained unaffected. (Read more)
Predatory Journals and Reviewing the Review Process
Once in a while, every scientist gets a mail in their inbox announcing the launch of a new journal that is now soliciting publications. Some ignore these mails, some look them up and many wonder if this email has come from a predatory journal.
The term “predatory journal” was coined by librarian Jeffrey Beall, in response to rising open-access journals which published articles subverting the peer-review process in lieu of hefty publication fees. Beall maintained a list of publishers he believes run predatory journals, that has now been taken down. Featuring prominently on this list is the OMICS publishing group, led by Hyderabad-based Dr Srinubabu Gedela. The OMICS group has denied these allegations and threatened to sue Mr Beall. (Read more)
The Prime Minister’s Science Technology and Innovation Council has unveiled 9 new missions ranging from artificial intelligence to deep ocean exploration. For life science enthusiasts, 4 missions which are interesting include:
1. Deep Ocean Mission
- Improve understanding of the oceans around us,
- Provide information and services to maintain the strategic interest of India in the Indian Ocean
- Provide information on the long term changes in the ocean due to climate change.
- This Mission, aspires to bring a revolution (similar to ISRO in space technology) in the application of ocean science and technology to shape the national life and developmental activities of the country.
- (Ministry of Earth Sciences, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Environment and Forests) (Read more)
Meanwhile, here are some newly discovered species
In the Western ghats, a starry dwarf frog: The Astrobatrachus kurichiyana has markings on its dark brown back, an orange underbelly and is just 2 centimetres long. The frog, whose closest relatives are a group of species native to India and Sri Lanka, is the only member of an ancient lineage dating back millions of years, according to researchers from India and the US. It is unclear whether the species descended from African or Asian frogs. (Read more)