Controversial anti-diabetes drug to be on shelves again

Back with brand new packaging and new conditions! | Image Source:health.india.com
Back with brand new packaging and new conditions! | Image Source:health.india.com

The latest Union government gazette notice issued on July 31 lifted the ban on the manufacturing and sales of the drug, Pioglitazone, whilst stating that the drug won’t be used as a first line of therapy for diabetes.

The notice laid down some guidelines for using the drug that is widely recommended for treating diabetes. For instance; prescribing lowest possible doses to elderly patients and gauging the risk for developing bladder cancer, knowing the smoking habits of the patient, and his exposure to chemotherapy agents before using the drug, if there is.

Also known as insulin sensitizer, Pioglitazone is an oral drug that reduces the amount of glucose in the blood, thus making the body more responsive to insulin. Since type 2 diabetes patients can’t make enough insulin and the cells of their body respond less to the insulin that is produced, the reduced amount of insulin cause cells to take up less glucose from the blood. This increases the level of glucose to rise in the blood.

A G Unnikrishnan, a city-based endocrinologist said, “We must continue to recognise the benefits of pioglitazone and use it judiciously. It is important to weigh the risks and benefits of therapy, discuss the findings with patients and make the right decision”. He also emphasised that the first line of treatment for type 2 diabetes is diet and exercise followed by a medication called metformin.

While elaborating on the guidelines, Unnikrishnan said, “Studies have shown that the risk of bladder cancer was higher with use of high doses for more than two years. Hence, the government notification states that the lowest possible doses should be prescribed to the elderly, who may be more susceptible to bladder cancer as well as increased fracture risk”.

Abhay Mutha, founder-president of the Diabetes Care and Research Foundation, also said that despite putting more than 2,000 patients on the drug, he hardly dealt with any problem. “Use of pioglitazone should ideally be stopped if a patient gains 4 kg or more in three months and sees no clinical benefit from the drug. If this drug is used without any monitoring, patients will definitely have small complications,” he added.

The drug first came under the scanner when the health ministry received objectionable letters from doctors. One of them was Chennai-based diabetologist Dr V Mohan who in his January 2013 letter to the PM and health minister mentioned that he had found eight cases of bladder cancer in relation with pioglitazone use.

“You will agree that as far as human lives are concerned, it does not matter even if only a few people develop bladder cancer and die. No drug which produces cancer should be allowed to be used in human beings. I, therefore, request you to take steps to ban pioglitazone use in the Indian market,” he said.

Finally, Pioglitazone was banned the Union Health Ministry on July 18. However, the ban was revoked within two weeks owing to protests by doctors and patients who said the ministry’s decision had been hasty. The drug will now be available in markets in a new box with a “warning” about its side effects in two weeks to a month’s time.

Source: TOI, Indian Express, Medicinenet.com, HT

While NaMo urges BJP to woo minority, Chavan thrashes BJP for communism

Now that Gujarat CM Narendra Modi is BJP’s self-appointed prime ministerial candidate, he has taken up the task to advice BJP on a matter or two. In a BJP meeting on Sunday, Modi said that over 100 Muslim councillors won in Gujarat’s local body elections with the support of BJP and this was possible only because of the Saffron party’s efforts to reach out to the Muslim minority.

Modi
Since I am the to-be-PM, let me advice you. Image Source: in.com

He suggested that if 25% of minority voters had supported BJP in Gujarat, the same could be possible in other states too. “We should not divide communities but ensure all sections are represented,” he said.

His ‘tainted’ past may enrage his rivals but Modi insisted that BJP benefits from a significant number of Muslim voters who are convinced of the party’s reputation and this shows results in local body elections with the election of Muslim councillors. Similarly, Modi also suggested that the party should focus on Dalits as well.

Like before, Modi said that BJP did not have much time to get its act together as the countdown for the Lok Sabha elections was ticking away. Modi also stressed the importance of social media in forming opinion, at least in urban areas.

If Modi’s suggestions are being termed as a strategy to win “272 plus seats” for Lok Sabha elections next year, BJP is also not getting a breather either from garnering negative criticism.

Chavan
“BJP is misleading the citizens – Chavan” | Image Source: sim03.in.com

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that BJP’s communal politics is a strategic step towards ripping the country apart. At the Maharashtra Pradesh Mahila Congress Committee on Sunday, Chavan stressed that the saffron party is trying to misdirect the nation as its leadership has gone for a toss.

“Citizens gave a chance to the BJP to prove its leadership. They were fed up with the BJP’s religion and caste-based politics. They realized that the BJP-led governments failed to take up the challenges to lead the country and the state,” he said.

Chavan also opposed the development model, ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ and disapproved of Modi’s criticism of PM Manmohan Singh’s Independence Day speech at the three-day workshop.

Source: Times of India, Indian Express

 

 

Managing water one ‘step’ at a time

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Pradeep Pawde: ” Everyone supported the idea. Half of the financial help came from the villagers only.”

The relationship between droughts and Kumbharwadi in Ahmednagar district goes back to the 1970s where the village suffered immense hunger and poverty. But today, the story of Kumbharwadi is completely different as it religiously follows ‘water-budgeting’ that helps the villagers in keeping a track of the amount of water being used every week.

In a small chat with Pradeep Pawde, the manager of the village’s water-budgeting, acquaints us with what prompted them to opt for it, the villagers’ contribution and the change it has brought in their agricultural activities.

Q. Why did the village decide to go for water-budgeting system?

A. The watershed development programme initiated by WOTR treated the shallow soils of the village. So, water would get stored easily. But due to less rainfall, the water levels started decreasing. On top of it, we were using the water injudiciously. Last year, when we experienced drought again, WOTR suggested this system.

Q. Who financed this programme?

A. After suggested we go for water-budgeting system, I immediately called for a village meeting to get everyone’s opinion. Luckily, everyone supported the idea. Half of the financial help came from the villagers only and the other half from WOTR.

Q. How does this programme work?

A. See, this is a special programme which happens only after the watershed development program has been implemented. Here, that started in 1998 and ended on 2002. The water-budgeting table shows total area of the village, availability of water, temperature, pressure, wind intensity and speed, rainfall measurement of Kumbharwadi. It is updated every week. So, we know how much water is being used. Borewells and open wells are also being measured to find out the groundwater level.

Q. How has this new programme affected the villagers?

A. People are now using water more carefully. They now realize the value of water more.

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The water-budgeting table: Painted on the outer wall of a village house

Q. How are the farmers managing?

A. Crops like tomatoes and onions that require flood irrigation are not being grown anymore. Instead, pomegranates are being grown. They are also using water saving devices like sprinkles. This year, about 30 farmers installed drip irrigation of one hectare each.

Q. So, have they earned any profits yet?

A. It’s been just one year. I can’t say. Initially, only four farmers started drip irrigation. This year, the number reached 30. Next year, who knows? Before water-budgeting, there was no mechanism. Now they can assess rainfall and thus groundwater available after the rains. Accordingly, crops to be planted in the winters can be planned. If there is surplus, summer plans can also be planned. 

Curiosity’s birthday bash on Mars

An illustration of the rover | Image: nasa.gov
An illustration of the rover | Image: nasa.gov

Amidst “Happy Birthday” chimes echoing through a barren, red desert, Mars rover Curiosity celebrated its birthday, on the night of August 5 using an on-board instrument to beep out the tune. NASA’s most expensive space rover landed on the neighbouring planet on August 6 last year to explore Gale Crater which once home to flowing water.

In the last 12 months, this $2.5 million project has belted out a string of discoveries for the world. Curiosity has not only travelled 1.6 kilometers across the red planet but has also collected 190 gigabits of data and sent back more than 36,700 full images, 35,000 thumbnail images and more than 75,000 laser shots of Mars’ crude surface, thereby helping the NASA scientists in their studies.

One of the initial photographs that Curiosity sent back home was a picture of its shadow and undoubtedly, that sent electric waves all across the world since the world could view Gale Crater for the first time. NASA specifically worked on making the two-ton car-sized rover land on Mars in one piece. For that, a sky crane and a supersonic parachute were used.

The first marvellous revelation made by the rover was that Mars is red on top and gray at the bottom. This discovery was made possible due to Curiosity’s drilling; making it the first robot to drill Mars’ surface.The drilling bits were even enough for the scientists to announce that the planet’s environment was once habitual. The surface particles had chemicals important for life in it, including elements like nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon.

The rover’s drilling also resulted in confirming that water too once flowed on the planet. The Mast Camera spotted evidence of water-carrying minerals in the Yellowknife Bay area where Curiosity first drilled. It was later found that this area was formed out of debris left by a river that once flowed into the crater.

Another feather in the cap was when the scientists determined that the planet’s atmosphere hasn’t changed much in the last 4 billion years. NASA confirms that it has been thin and inhospitable to life as always known.

The date collected by the rover regarding the radiation levels on Mars also revealed that the radiation in deep space is several hundred times as compared to what is on Earth and is extremely harmful for machines on Mars.

Currently, Curiosity is on its way to record geological history of Mars on Mount Sharp, a three-mile-high structure made of layers. NASA hopes to get the rover there by next summer. During the journey, rover will continue to fire back home whatever photographs it takes and measurements it records.

Curiosity’s latest tweet (@Mars Curiosity) read, “I would drive 500 meters and I would drive 500 more. Another kilometer closer to Mount Sharp! Total odometry on Mars: 2 km.” Looks like it’s already very excited about the trip.

 Sources: CNN.com, Washington Post

Drought-hit Vidarbha now flooded, Chavan delays relief package

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Vidarbha is witnessing a natural calamity, the second one in this very year. PTI

Barely six months after recording one of the worst droughts that has struck the country since independence, Vidarbha was receiving above average rainfall over the month of June and July. Nagpur division has by now received 1,168 mm rainfall. Its season’s average is 1,172 mm. Water from rivers such as Painganga and Adan has entered several villages. Nagpur-Bori-Tuljapur state highway has been blocked, severing the connection between Vidarbha and Marathawada. Initial estimates suggest 500 hectares of farm land being damaged. Vidarbha is witnessing a natural calamity, the second one in this very year.

Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, on Thursday, announced a special relief package of Rs. 1,934 crores for flood-hit Vidarbha, the eastern region of Maharashtra. Quoting heavy rains as the culprit behind the disaster, Chavan said, “After two years of drought in one part of the state, another is seeing a downpour this year. At the same time, most drought-prone areas have received above-average rain, while the remaining continue to depend on tankers.”

Out of the total relief money, Rs. 840 crores have been alloted for schemes to fight natural calamities like excess rain and floods and Rs. 375 crores for helping affected people. Rs. 720 crores have been directed to reconstruct government properties including roads and bridges. Rs. 50 lakh will also be given as emergency relief fund to District collectors.

Chavan said of the 237 rain-related deaths in Maharashtra, 107 were reported alone in Vidarbha. The heavy downpour has not only destroyed 3,800 houses, but has also brought devastation to around 2,000 animals.

However, all is not hunky dory in the Chavan-led government as on Wednesday the Opposition slammed him at the State Assembly for not announcing relief for Vidarbha sooner. Also, while the Opposition demanded an assistance of Rs 25,000 per hectare, Chavan announced only Rs 7,500 per hectare for grains and Rs 5,000 for the other crops damaged in Vidarbha.

State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said, “It all appears good on paper but in reality it does not translate to much. We wanted the government to announce Rs 25,000 per hectare to all. However, only Rs 2,000 per acre has been offered. The government had given Rs 25,000 per hectare for standing sugarcane crop in western Maharashtra as it could not be crushed. There is inherent bias in the package.”

With Chavan’s government receiving flak for being biased towards the western region of the state, is it time for a separate Vidarbha state to take birth? Soon after Telangana came into being, all people can talk about is the bifurcation of Maharashtra. People belonging to Vidarbha feel that the state government constantly ignores them in terms of development and investment. They also feel that their dialect and culture are different from other Maharashtrians.

Political parties – Congress, BJP and NCP are pro-Vidarbha statehood as they derive significant strength from this region. NCP Vice President Praful Patel said, “NCP fully supports Vidarbha if people are keen to have it. If people want, we will support it.”

With Vidarbha getting strong political support, will Chavan and his government surrender to the bifurcation of the state or will he make efforts to be seen as a unbiased chief minister? That only time will tell.

Modi splurges on statue, ignores school

Statue
Image source: indiaresists.com

A foul smell reeks from every nook and corner of the school in Karamsad where once Sardar Vallabhai Patel studied from standard I to III. Uncultivated flora has grown everywhere and the place resembles that of a dilapidated area where all that remains of the classrooms is granulated concrete.

The school needs a government funding of a meagre amount of Rs. 25 lakh to restore the rundown place and turn it into a memorial of the real ‘Iron Man of India’. However, the Modi-led government has refused to extend any monetary help. In the year 2000, it had handed over the school campus to the Sardar Patel Trust, Karamsad for renovation but since then, its condition has only deteriorated.

Anjali Harolikar, administrator of the trust, said, “The building was leased to us for 30 years. We have submitted a detailed proposal of restoration of the primary school building with estimated cost with map but the government has refused to help.”

On the other hand, Narendra Modi is leaving no stones unturned to fulfil what he had promised, i.e. erecting the tallest statue of Sardar Patel in the whole world. The Gujarat CM made this announcement last week. The last time he made this revelation was in the year 2010 during a press conference marking the beginning of his 10th year as CM.

Modi plans to take help of farmers across the country to make this Rs. 2,000 project, aptly titled “Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat”, a huge success. Videos demonstrating how the 182 meter- high structure will be twice the height of New York’s Statue of Liberty and five times that of Christ the Redeemer at Rio da Janeiro are already being floated all over the internet.

Modi firmly believes that by approaching the farmers to collect iron from their farming tools for the statue, he will be able to establish an emotional relationship with them. He even quoted this highly ambitious project as  “biggest ever project on any tribal land”.  

Sources: The Times of India, The Indian Express

Terror strike at Bodhgaya; Attackers won’t be spared says CM

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The temple town of Bodh Gaya, the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, was rudely awakened by a series of blasts on Sunday morning. Regarded as the first major terror attack on a Buddhist holy site in India, the nine explosions took place between 5.30 and 5.58 in the morning, leaving two monks injured.

Thirteen bombs were planted over a radius of one km from the Mahabodhi temple. A police official said that four bombs exploded inside the Mahabodhi temple complex, three in the Karmapa monastery and one each near the 80-feet Buddha statue and at the bus stand near the by-pass.

Out of the remaining four, police recovered one exploded bomb from Terega Monastery. The other two live bombs were found at the Rampur Road junction en route to the temple and near the Buddha statue respectively. The last one was planted close-by.

The three bombs were not only defused on time but also found to be carrying some kind of inscriptions on them. The word “bus” was written in English on one. “To protest Iraq war” and “Bada But” (big statue) were written in Urdu on the other two bombs.

On examining the bombs, it was found that small LPG cylinders were used as containers to detonate explosives that are suspected to be a mixture of ammonium nitrate and RDX. The cylinders were filled with explosives after the gas was taken out. Circuit was completed using a detonator and timer device.

Fortunately, Lord Buddha’s 80-foot statue in the temple didn’t get damaged. According to the National Security Guard (NSG), the terrorists planted the bombs so close to each other that when one went off, it exploded the other’s timer making it useless. “When the first bombs exploded, the timers of the others broke and the circuit was terminated,” a senior NSG officer said.

The circuit, however, had similarities with IEDs found in the Ahmedabad (2008), Jaipur (2006) and Pune (2012) blasts which were carried out by the Indian Mujahideen. “In none of these, cylinders were used. It’s difficult to say if it’s a signature of any group,” another NSG officer said.

Even though the Bihar government received a warning twice in the last three months regarding a possible attack from the jihadi groups, the state failed to take appropriate security measures. The warning had specified that the terrorists were targeting Buddhist temples in reaction to supposed atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar plans to request the Centre to deploy Central Industrial Security Force personnel for the protection of the Mahabodhi temple. The CM said the National Investigation Agency will probe the serial blasts and state officials would assist the premier probe agency. “The perpetrators of the blast will not be spared,” Kumar said.