Medical developments from around the world
Transparency in Drug Research
There is a move to push pharmaceutical companies to be more transparent in clinical trials. Activists, including Dr Peter Doshi, a post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, want public access to all the data from clinical trials. “The current system, the activists say, is one in which the meager details of clinical trials published in medical journals, often by authors with financial ties to the companies whose drugs they are writing about, is insufficient to the point of being misleading,” quoted The New York Times in their story titled “Breaking the Seal on Drug Research”. Similar efforts are being made in Europe. Naturally, the pharmaceutical industry is trying very hard to stop this move.
HIV Vaccine Found Useless
A US government study, called the ‘HVTN 505 clinical trial’, kicked off in 2009. It had enrolled about 2,500 people in 19 cities, all men who have sex with men and transgender people who have sex with men. Half of the sample received an experimental vaccine developed by the National Institutes of Health; the other half received dummy, or placebo, shots.
A safety review on 22 April 2013 found that volunteers who had received the vaccine later than those who received the dummy injection became infected with HIV. Overall, 41 cases of HIV infection occurred in the volunteers who received the experimental vaccine and 30 cases of HIV infection occurred among the recipients who received the dummy injection. The safety review also showed that the vaccine failed to reduce viral load among volunteers who acquired HIV infection at least 28 weeks after joining the study.
Women Deaths from Painkiller Overdose
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which showed increase in painkiller overdose-related deaths among women, received extensive coverage. Dr Thomas Frieden, of CDC, spoke of the magnitude of the problem. Dr Frieden said that prescription opiates kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined. He also said, “It’s tragic and unacceptable when we lose even one child to an avoidable injury.”
Unnecessary Cholesterol Testing
JAMA Internal Medicine, a part of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) network, reported that about one-third of individuals who have heart disease undergo cholesterol testing more frequently than recommended. More than 9,000 patients out of about 27,000 had additional lipid panels in the 11 months after they achieved their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) goal of less than 100mg/dL. That was not necessary and could be dangerous. These seemingly inexpensive tests add up when done frequently.
Daily Painkillers Use May Increase CV Risk
The New York Times reported that “an authoritative and ambitious new analysis that included data from over 600 trials, including detailed case histories of more than 350,000 patients, concludes that people who take high doses of painkillers daily increase their cardiovascular risk by as much as a third, compared with those taking a placebo.” It also said: “the one exception is naproxen, which may actually have a protective effect against heart attacks.” The findings were published in The Lancet. I had written decades ago that painkillers do kill!
Smoking on the Decline in US
The prevalence of smoking among US adults declined from 24.7% in 1997 to 20.9% in 2005, and further from 20.6% in 2009 to 18.0% in 2012, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even in India, the rate is declining among the literate masses. Beedi business has shrunk significantly.
However, for the current upmove to end, Nifty should close below 6020.
The Indian equity market ended with smart gains on Tuesday. The Nifty ended just shy of hitting the 6,100 mark while the Sensex managed to surge past the 20,350 in mid-afternoon trades. The Sensex closed at 20,302, up 143 points, while the Nifty shut shop up at 6,077 over Monday's close of 6,031. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) reported marginally higher volume of 44.84 crore shares, when compared to yesterday, while advance to decline ratio was 593:566, indicating that the upmarket movement is not broad-based. On the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), 1,149 stocks advanced against 1,150 declines, while 173 remained unchanged.
In the morning, the Nifty opened 33 points higher at 6,064 and the Sensex started the day at 20,249, up 90 points from its previous close. And both indices went up from there. Nifty and Sensex touched their respective highs at 6,093.35 and 20,351.06.
Asian markets also ended with smart gains. The Shanghai Composite gained 2.89%; the Hang Seng rose 2.33%; the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.82%; the Straits Times climbed 0.60%; the Seoul Composite gained 1.27% and the Taiwan Weighted settled 1.35% higher.
The Indian market opened on a bullish note, on the back of strong sentiments in Asia, fuelled by optimism in Japan. However, as far as India is concerned, there are headwinds particularly earnings prospects as well as macro economy vis-a-vis inflation, rupee and current account deficit. The smart upswing was led by FMCG, energy, realty, PSU banking, metals and oil and gas (energy) stocks. Only infrastructure sector ended in the red. However, midcap and smallcap stocks struggled for direction, though both ended the day in the black.
Gains in PSU banking, metals, energy and realty sectors saw the benchmarks emerge into the positive terrain in the first hour itself. The market continued to gain momentum in morning trade on support from finance, information technology and commodities. Pharmaceutical and auto sectors showed downward bias, but still finished in the black.
Meanwhile, the rupee ended the day at 59.76 to the dollar versus 59.72 on Monday.
At the time of writing, two of the three key European markets were trading with minor gains while US stock futures indicates more gains ahead. Foreign institutional investors net sales were $64.08 million On 22 July.