Sunday, 11 May 2014

My top 7 medical news stories from China for Sunday 11th May


1. An intensive control program has helped to reduce the incidence of schistosomiasis in China over the last decade, according to Dr Li Shizhu of the National Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Shanghai. However, nine 'hotspots' still exist, mostly in the marsh and lakes areas of the the middle and lower Yangtze River basin.

2. Japanese researchers have developed a vaccine that is effective against the H7N9 avian influenza that has killed more than x people in China since it first emerged in 2013. The researchers from Hokkaido University developed an inactivated whole virus particle  vaccine from a Duck/Mongolia/119/08 (H7N9) strain that is antigenically similar to Anhui/1/13 (H7N9) that has been circulating in China. In an animal tests, the vaccine induces protective immunity against the challenge with Anhui/1/13 and the researchers say their vaccine could only be mass produced within six months to be used in case of a H7N9 pandemic.

3. About 75% of foreign medicines bought by Chinese from internet sources are counterfeit, according to the China FDA. The agency says Chinese cancer patients often turn to online agents to buy foreign new drugs that are not available or not approved in China and are very expensive to buy in China. However, an investigation found that drug bought on the internet such as Gleevec are typically counterfeit and contain no active ingredient.

4. New clinical guidelines on the management of COPD have been published for China by Professor Cai Baiqiang and colleagues at the Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Peking Union Medical College Hospital

5. The city of Beijing wants to divert people with minor illness from overcrowded hospitals to local 'family doctor' clinics. It is promoting the availability of family doctor clincis, saying these will be available in most areas of the city from this year. The advantages of family doctor clincis are that pateints can easily make appointments to see the doctor - and the services are aso open to people without a Beijing hukou. 

6. Price controls have been lifted for 280 essential drugs in China because reputable pharmaceutical companies found it unprofitable to manufacture them. The  National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) recommended lifting price caps on the basic drugs which had been designed to make them affordable to the less well off. The price caps meant that basic drugs were often made by dodgy companies that cut corners on quality to try make a profit on the low prices.

7. Many Chinese patients with type 2 diabetes have poor control of their glycaemia through inappropriate use of hypolgycaemic drugs. A survey of almost 10,000 patients found that those using metformin as monotherapy had better control, whereas those using insulin secretagogues often had poor control and had to make frequent changes to therapy. The study found that 70% of patients used insulin secretagogues such as sulfonylureas or glinides (28%), 54% used metformin and 17% used thiazolidinediones. Dual-drug combination therapy was more common (45%) than monotherapy (36%.

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