The Health News – 1 March 2017

• The photo of a 95 year oil woman lying on the floor waiting for treatment at Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) in January 2016 outraged many and lead to more beds to solve the long-running health crisis.

• An international team of researchers discovered the first genetic indicator of a degenerative eye disease called Macular Telangiectasia type 2 or MacTel. This disease is incurable and usually strikes people who are over the age of 40.

• Counterfeit medicines have reached hospitals and public market despite complex regulatory regime in Australia. These fake drugs are potentially harmful. Health service providers and patients need to know medicines are genuine.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  1st of March 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

A report commissioned in the aftermath of a scandal involving a 95-year-old woman lying on a Tasmanian hospital floor waiting to be treated has been released, with the Health Minister immediately announcing more beds to solve the long-running health crisis.

The outrage which followed the woman’s two-hour ordeal at Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) in January 2016 led to a personal apology from the Tasmanian Health Minster Michael Ferguson, who commissioned a report into operations at Hobart and Launceston’s hospitals.

The report’s findings, delivered in August 2016, were released…after a Right To Information request.

In response to the report, Mr Ferguson …said 27 hospital beds in the state’s southern area would open to “reduce patient bed flow issues … [and] support patients in emergency departments not having to wait anywhere near as long”.

Mr Ferguson denied the announcement was a “knee-jerk” reaction.

Mr Ferguson said the Government would provide $2.6 million to open the beds by winter.

The first genetic indicator of an eye disease which results in blindness has been discovered by an international team of researchers.

The degenerative eye disease … MacTel [for short], is incurable and usually strikes people who are over the age of 40.

Up until now identifying a possible cause for the disease has been difficult.

Scientists are unsure as to how many Australians have MacTel, but they estimate somewhere between 500 and 1,200.

The disease affects the macular — the centre of the eye — said Professor Melanie Bahlo, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne.

This leads to a gradual loss of central vision over a period of 10 to 20 years, impacting people’s use of their sharp vision for tasks like driving and reading.

There were also signs that there could be genetic predispositions for MacTel in certain people.

To find out more, researchers collaborated with teams in London and New York to analyse the genetic data of nearly 500 MacTel patients, and 1,700 people without the disease.

Professor Bahlo said they carried out statistical analysis of DNA data from about 6 million markers in the genome of patients with the condition and then compared them to those without.

They found genetic similarities in five key regions of the genome.

The study will be published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Prescribing and using pharmaceuticals is a matter of trust.

Health service providers and patients need to know medicines are genuine.

Counterfeit” medicines that do not contain enough, or any, of the pharmacologically active ingredients are potentially harmful.

In this case, counterfeits that do not provide the required full dose encourage resistant strains to develop rather than merely not helping the individual patient.

Questions about trust and counterfeiting have been highlighted in litigation over the past two months.

A case recently come to light in New South Wales in which counterfeit Viagra had entered the hospital system, and identified by staff preparing the medication to treat children with pulmonary hypertension …

The supply of pharmaceuticals in Australia is regulated by national and state law about how they are produced, imported, distributed and dispensed.

It is a complex but coherent regime that involves national drugs and medical devices regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (customs inspections at the border), health professions, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and Australia Post, along with pharmaceutical manufacturers and importers.

Some counterfeits are imported and slip past customs.

The recent litigation in NSW highlights two concerns: the need for stronger law, and better enforcement.

Global intellectual property agreements such as TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) have increasingly emphasised penalties for counterfeiting.


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