Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
How drug companies use Rotavirus to frighten new moms and dads

Is the pharmaceutical industry trying to create an opportunity for making money by hard-selling new vaccines to parents by creating a false scare about the disease?

In July 2012, leading pharmaceutical major GlaxoSmithKline started issuing advertisements saying that nearly five lakh babies die in India due to Rotavirus. Hence, the aim was clearly to ensure that Rotavirus vaccines become a part of the mandatory vaccines that are given to new born babies and infants. What makes this advertisement interesting is that it did not promote a particular company but the need for the vaccine. In other words, here was a sly attempt by the pharmaceutical companies to unite and look forward to ‘creating’ a new market.
 

So, what is Rotavirus and its threat? Rotavirus is spread by ingestion of the virus through contaminated food, and effective hygiene helps in reducing the spread of infection. Former vice chancellor of Manipal University Prof Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan recipient has written a detailed and precise article shattering myths about Rotavirus. Dr Hegde debunks the process of vaccination by informing us that vaccination is now sold using statistical tricks of relative risk reduction while suppressing the most useful absolute risk reduction. The story also illustrates that medical companies have been using statistics as their weapon to sell ideas to gullible and doctors. The article also points to relevant studies quoted in the British Medical Journal.
 

What did the pharma companies aim to achieve by its so-called public service advertisement warning people about the Rotavirus vaccine? Once the alleged dangers of being affected by rotavirus are implanted in the minds of parents, pharmaceutical companies only need to push prescription by having armies of medical representatives to work on the doctors to promote it. Once a particular doctor also endorses the scare, then it is a win-win situation both for the pharmaceutical industry and the medical fraternity at the cost of ordinary people.
 

Thankfully, Dr Nalini Abraham, a Delhi-based medical practitioner, objected to the advertisements featuring the Rotavirus vaccination being broadcast freely on television channels and filed an official complaint with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). Her complaint dated 7 July 2012 alleges that the advertisement misrepresents facts as it demonstrates that vaccines are the only way to reduce incidents of infection. The advertisement further goes on to illustrate that simple methods such as hand washing do not help in prevention of infections. It is important to realize that the complaint was not about the expensive nature of the vaccine but the need for it.
 

Replying to the complaint lodged at the Advertising Standards Council of India in Mumbai, the advertisers maintained that the campaign did not refer to any brand name and did not mention the word ‘vaccine’. Thus, the advertisers maintained the campaign directed the audiences to consult his/her doctor for more information before making a direct-to-consumer sale pitch. They also claimed that their statements were substantiated by scientific studies conducted by global health authorities such as Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, PATH, Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization.

 

The Consumers Complaints Council (CCC) of the Advertising Standards Council of India reviewed the response provided by the advertiser and arrived at the conclusion that the claim of vaccination being the only way to reduce incidents of infection was inadequately substantiated. Keeping in mind the concerns lodged by the complainant, the claim that vaccination was the only way to treat rotavirus was also found to be misleading. The screening panel upheld the complaint filed by Dr Abraham under Chapters I.I. and I.4 and said that the issues raised by the vaccine were complex. The nature of the advertisement, therefore, could not be allowed to be broadcast in a direct advertisement to the public in such a misleading fashion.

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NMDC suffers revenue loss during 2007-10: CAG

CAG said by extending unwarranted reduction in price, NMDC had passed Rs600.83 crore benefit to customers and not increasing prices in line with increase in export prices led to a loss of Rs227.40 crore for the state-run iron ore miner

New Delhi: Iron ore miner NMDC has suffered Rs745.94 crore revenue loss during 2007-10 for not revising the domestic prices of the steel-making raw material in line with prevailing market rates, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said, reports PTI.

 

"...due to non-revision of domestic prices by the company (NMDC) in line with movement of market price, the company has suffered a revenue loss of Rs754.94 crore during 2007-10," CAG said in a report, tabled in Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Indian Parliament), on Thursday.

 

The government auditor also said by extending unwarranted reduction in price, NMDC had passed Rs600.83 crore benefit to customers during 2010-11.

 

"Further, not increasing the prices by full percentage in line with increase in export prices led to a loss of Rs227.40 crore during the same period," CAG said.

 

The government miner exports iron ore by entering into long-term agreements (LTA) with Japanese Steel Mills (JSM) and the price it gets is at par with what Australian and Brazilian exporters get from JSM.

 

LTA prices of exports formed the basis for determining the domestic prices for LTA with domestic customers, CAG said, adding that 95% of NMDC's sales came from LTA and the rest were spot sales during 2005-12.

 

"Sales to domestic customers through LTA accounted for 84% of its sales," CAG said.

 

State-run Rashtriya Ispat Nigam and private sector firms like JSW Steel, JSW Ispat and Essar Steel are NMDC's major customers domestically.

 

During 2005-12, NMDC contributed 13% of India's iron ore production and met 26% of the domestic iron ore demand. Last fiscal, it had sold 27.3 million tonnes iron ore valued at Rs11,167.56 crore.

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EPFO trustees may decide interest on PF deposits on 15th January

According to the sources, the preliminary estimates of EPFO indicate that the body would neither have surplus nor have deficit if it pays 8.6% rate of interest to its over 50 million subscribers.

New Delhi: Retirement fund body Employees' Provident Fund Organisation's (EPFO)'s apex decision making Central Board of Trustees (CBT) is likely to decide rate of interest on provident fund (PF) deposits for 2012-13 in its meeting on 15th January, reports PTI.

 

"EPFO trustee may consider the proposal for deciding the rate of interest on PF deposits in its meeting on 15th January," a source said.

 

EPFO has also issued a notice that the 201st meeting of the CBT has been scheduled to be held on 15 January 2013 in Mumbai.

 

As per the practise after the CBT, headed by the Labour Minister, decides the rate of interest for a fiscal, it is sent to the Finance Ministry for concurrence.

 

According to the sources, the preliminary estimates of EPFO indicate that the body would neither have surplus nor have deficit if it pays 8.6% rate of interest to its over 50 million subscribers.

 

However, the unionists are demanding to keep the interest rate at par or above 8.8% provided to the subscribers of Public Provident Fund, which is voluntary scheme.

 

The unionist have also been demanding raising the interest rate to 9.5% provided by the body in 2010-11. EPFO had slashed the rate of interest by 1.25% to 8.25% for 2010-11.

 

Prior to 2010-11, EPFO had maintained an interest rate of 8.5% for five consecutive years since 2004-05.

 

"We will demand interest rate of 9.5% for this fiscal in the trustees meet. It should commensurate the prevailing bank deposits rate ranging from 9 to 10%," Hind Mazdoor Sabha Secretary AD Nagpal who is also an EPFO trustee told PTI.

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