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Also In Global Health News: Generic Drugs From India; Rapid TB Test; U.S.-India Agriculture Dialogue; Zimbabwe’s Health Sector; ‘Superbug’ In U.S.

Changing Trade Rules In India Could Impede Access To Generic Drugs

Generic drugs produced in India “could cost more and be harder to access if the country has to adhere to stricter intellectual property rules,” Reuters reports, noting that the country supplies the “bulk” of AIDS medicines that go developing countries. The article cites a new Journal of the International AIDS Society study, written by a UNITAID official and other experts, that said Indian trade deals have “have already begun to complicate efforts to get cheap, life-saving drugs to poorer countries.” The study authors also said trade talks between India and the EU could result in extended patent terms, data exclusivity and border enforcement, which could increase the price of anti-retrovirals (ARVs), limit dosage options and delay access (MacInnis, 9/14).

New Test Could Detect TB In One Hour

The U.K.’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) has developed a test that could diagnose tuberculosis in one hour, BBC reports. Because the test detects a region of the TB bacterium’s DNA, researchers say it can diagnose all strains of the disease. “The HPA test comes just weeks after” researchers published details of the Xpert MTB/RIF test, which can diagnose TB in two hours. Current tests for TB can take up to eight weeks for diagnosis. The news service quotes study leader Cath Arnold of the HPA who said “there are various aspects which we need to develop further before we can offer it as an off-the-shelf product.” (Bowdler, 9/14).

U.S.-India Agriculture Dialogue Meets To Discuss Cooperation In Food Security, Agriculture

The U.S.-India Agriculture Dialogue steering committee held its first meeting Tuesday, discussing “strategic cooperation in agriculture and food security, food processing, farm-to-market linkages and agricultural extension and crop and weather forecasting,” the Hindustan Times reports. In 2009, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama said they would take “practical steps to advance global food security and increase agricultural cooperation between the two countries,” according to the publication (9/15).

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Wants To Restore Health Sector

Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai “officially reopened refurbished wards and an intensive care unit at the Harare Central Hospital” following a “near-total collapse” of the nation’s health system, according to VOA News. The hospital had closed the wards eight years ago because of a lack of funding, staff and equipment. Tsvangirai “said it is his ambition to restore Zimbabwe’s ailing health sector to its former status as one of the best health care systems in Africa.” The health minister said that his office would ask for $700 million in donor aid to rebuild intensive care services (Nyaira, 9/13).

CDC Official Confirms Patients With Drug-Resistant ‘Superbug’ Were Treated In U.S. Hospitals

“A person infected with a ‘superbug‘ that is sparking fears around the world was treated earlier this year in a Massachusetts hospital, disease trackers said” on Monday, the Boston Globe’s “White Coat Notes” blog reports. According to the blog, a CDC official “said the Massachusetts patient survived, as did the only other two U.S. patients with infections blamed on the superbug, which appears to have been contained.”

The blog continues, “Global health specialists attending a major meeting of microbiologists and infectious disease doctors in Boston this week said they are particularly concerned about NDM-1 because of its emergence in India. Antibiotics are cheap and available over the counter in South Asia, specialists said, fueling inappropriate use and, consequently, the development of drug resistance. Poor sanitation can further spread NDM-1, which thrives in germs that proliferate in the gut.” The blog also notes the challenges associated with controlling the spread of the drug-resistant bacteria “in an era of jet travel (Smith, 9/13).

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