Category Archives: Diseases & Treatment

Decrease Risk of Birth Defects

What exactly is Biotin?
Biotin is a B vitamin that’s essential for the formation of fatty acids and glucose, which are needed for the production of energy. surgery for sleep apnea It also aids with the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. What this means is that biotin helps you absorb all the vitamins that your body needs to maintain the health of the skin, nails and hair.

Do I Need More Biotin?
Biotin is taken for many different reasons, it has been said that biotin can help clear up acne, eczema, brittle nails, diaper rash, cradle cap or hair loss. Obviously if any of these problems are serious one should consult a doctor; however, bioton has been known to strengthen nails and hair. Biotin is offend advertised specifically for hair skin and nails, making consumers think it’s the miracle vanity vitamin at only five bucks a bottle. The reason biotin is marketed towards hair growth is because biton deficiency can cause hair loss, even though biotin deficiency is fairly uncommon. In some cases biotin deficiency is caused by a genetic disorder, so you’ll have to blame your parents for that one. Most commonly the deficiency is caused by excessive alcohol consumption, with all the alcohol in your system your body isn’t able to absorb all the natural biotin your body needs. This is obviously why all of Hollywood’s young stars have resorted to hair extensions, fake nails and heavy make-up.

Biotin is vital to survival, even just small natural amounts found in food. As a result, most states have adopted mandatory testing for biotinidase (the enzyme that releases biotin in food) after birth, as mentioned before deficiency is uncommon and can be treated by taking a supplement or even by altering ones diet. The daily amount recommended for pregnant or nuring women is 200 – 400 micrograms. Increased consumption of biotin rich foods during pregnancy is a good idea to maintain natural biotin levels along with a lower dose biotin supplement. Being biotin deficent during pregnancy can lead to increased risk birth defects like cleft pallets, teratogenesis (abnormal development of the embryo or fetus) and tube defects. Some of the conditions can be very serious, but by taking biotin and folic acid supplements during pregnancy can help ensure and safe and healthy delivery.

Biotin Supplementation
How should you be taking biotin on a normal basis? Taking biotin in vitamin form is the most essential way to take it, even though some shampoos have biotin as an ingredient it’s not proven to penetrate the scalp or hair shaft and promote hair growth. Although many people claim to see results in hair growth when taking biotin, it isn’t proven to actually make hair grow. The recommended dose of biotin depends on your age and gender, it also varies during pregnancy and nursing for women.

Your body should be getting around 20-30 micrograms of biotin naturally everyday, and around 30 – 45 if you are pregnant or nursing. You can find smaller amounts of biotin naturally in food, good sources of natural biotin are found in cauliflower, salmon, bananas, carrots, egg yolks, sardines, legumes and mushrooms. Adding a few of these foods to your diet can help increase your natural biotin levels. Most biotin supplements usually have around 1000-2000 micrograms in each pill, some “extra strength” have up to 5000 micrograms in each pill. These extra doses of biotin is what helps maintain healthy hair, skin and nails. The range considered ‘normal’ for biotin levels is extremely wide and ranges from 220 – 3000. Top prenatal vitamins will contain anywhere from 300-400mcgs of biotin. Thus far there have been no know negative affects of humans intaking large amounts of biotin. However, studies have not specifically looked at the harmful effects of excess biotin, so sticking with the recommended intake level is the safest thing to do.

Patent monopolies and high treatment costs threaten Africa Health

Almost 50% of the African people live on less than $1 a day – the highest rate of extreme poverty in the world. Click here for more information Indeed 32 out of the 48 poorest countries are located Sub Saharan Africa. Accordingly their purchasing power is quite low. While the continent is home to 11% of the world’s population, it bears 25% of the world’s disease burden. In addition, per capita public health spending is very low, often less than $100 in many SSA countries .This compares unfavorably to countries such as the US where per capita health spending hovers around $7000 per person. In Norway it is about $5000 while in the UK it is about $4000. Considering the heavy burden of diseases and the low public health spending, it is critical that the meager resources be stretched as far as possible.

One of the ways this has been possible is the through the use of cheap generic drugs instead of the expensive brand names. For example, within the last decade, the price of AIDS treatment per person fell from $10,000 to $100 per year due to the availability of generics which ushered a public health revolution that enabled millions of poor people access to these lifesaving drugs.
Recently, the Obama administration placed India in its trade black list after some of India Courts made rulings allowing some generic versions of expensive drugs. The Office of the US Trade Representative in its Special 301 Report objected to some aspects of India’s Patent system. Although placement on the list may not attract much attention and may have little impact, it is a bullying tactic that has a chilling effect on any nation that seeks to produce generics.
Indian courts ruled in one of two cases that the production of a generic alternative (compulsory licensing) to Nexavar, a cancer drug that is patented by Bayer AG, the German maker of the drug: it costs over $5000 a month for a standard dose, way too high to be affordable to almost all Indians. The generic version costs $157, although under the new ruling by the Courts Bayer still gets 6% of the royalties on the sales of the generic drug.

In July 2012, a representative of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office called this decision an “egregious” WTO violation as Nexavar was not being manufactured in India. It is worth noting that compulsory licensing of generic versions is protected by WTO treaties when its goal is to improve public health.
While it is understandable that Research & Development for new drugs is expensive as are the regulations, pricing the drugs at $5000 a month puts them out of reach for too many people, causing an expected push for inexpensive generic drugs. Considering the generics are available at $157 a month in India, there should be room for a reasonable middle ground.
In a second case, Indian courts ruled against a patent filed for an updated version of a cancer drug Glevec manufactured by Swiss pharmaceutical Novartis. The court argued that the newer version did not constitute a new breakthrough worthy of monopoly pricing power. This is one of the strategies that some Big Pharma uses, known as “Evergreening”, where they make minor upgrade to an existing drug, such as changing one molecule, and then make a request for patent that extends monopolies beyond the standard 20 year period. The Obama administration objected to the ruling saying that it “may have the effect of limiting the patentability of potentially beneficial innovations”. As a result of the India’s court’s ruling Glevec costs ten times less in India as it costs in South Africa.
Incredibly, some African countries are being pushed to pass anti-generic drugs laws, making it harder to produce or import them into their countries despite the obvious need of these low priced versions for resource poor settings. For example, Kenya has already ratified an anti-generic drug law that will force its people to buy drugs that are 10 times more expensive but not more effective than generics. Camouflaged as an anti-counterfeit law, it makes it possible for generic drugs exported from any country which are patented anywhere else, other than Kenya, to be classified as counterfeit if the patent holder raises an objection. Uganda and Zambia are also under pressure to pass similar laws. Indeed, India has been sensitizing African health ministers to resist pressure from Big Pharma to prohibit generic versions of drugs.
Considering the fact that Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), such as cancer, are becoming a major problem in Sub-Saharan Africa and will surpass communicable diseases (such as malaria and AIDS) as leading causes of death in the next decade, availability of affordable treatment for NCDs such as cancer are of immense importance to the continent. In addition the fate of India is linked to that of African countries which have limited capacity to produce generics of their own. South Africa is the only country that produces active pharmaceutical ingredients mostly of non-specialty drugs.

It is to be noted that India’s generic drug industry has been a major factor in increasing access of various treatments to the poor. In the early 2000s treatment for AIDS was totally non-existent in poor countries until the Indian Generic drug manufacturing came into existence, resulting in the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and other major players, to expand their treatment greatly through the use of cheaper generic drugs.
However, some pricing obstacles still remain especially for second line treatments. For example, the combination treatment Lopinavir + ritonavir manufactured by Chicago-based Abbott which is a key component of many AIDS treatments is priced at $400 in poor countries and as much as $1000- $4000 in Middle income countries. This has meant that prices of second line treatments remain beyond the reach of many.
It is worth noting that the US and Big Pharmaceuticals are pushing for stricter intellectual property laws in WTO specifically in the Doha Round of talks. In Paragraph 6 of the “Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health” adopted by WTO members signed in 2002, it was agreed that the poorest countries should have access to generics of life saving drugs.
However, the eventual “diluted” Paragraph 6, agreed to in July 2003 due to delays occasioned by the US government’s inflexibility on the subject, the conditions were such that the amendment did not provide the anticipated feasible solution. Efforts to amend Article 31 of TRIPS (Trade related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) in 2005 to offer a straight forward solution met resistance. Enforcement of TRIPS standards through the WTO and the Doha round due in Bali in December 2013 would remove the ability to resort to generics. no wonder many advocates for Africa’s Health hope that the coming Doha round will fail.
While it is important to have policies that address medical innovation ,important global health challenges must also be addressed through a vibrant generic drugs market. While the Obama administration emphasizes consumer affordability in its domestic posture such as in relation to the Affordable Care Act, it seems to be turning the other eye when it comes to its posture abroad. Its laudable goal of an “AIDS Free Generation” may not be realized if patent monopolies and high treatment costs continue to erode poor people’s ability to access life saving treatment.

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