Materia Medica Malaysiana

April 29, 2005


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:17 pm

Chua: No more dengue outbreak in Malaysia

The country is free of a dengue epidemic, said Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek.
After battling the deadly disease for the past 16 weeks of the year, there is no more dengue outbreak.
Dr Chua said there was a significant drop in dengue cases as compared to early part of the year when the outbreak occurred. To date the disease has killed 40 people, many of whom children.
“There were about 1,500 cases reported in a week in February. But they have since dropped to between 350 and 400 cases a week now and that is normal,” he told reporters after visiting the Kangar Hospital here


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 4:34 pm

SJMC buys Megah Medical for RM10.7m

Sime Darby Bhd’s unit Subang Jaya Medical Centre Sdn Bhd (SJMC) has acquired Megah Medical Specialists Group Sdn Bhd (MMSG) in Petaling Jaya for RM10.70 million.
The acquisition of the MMSG would be financed by SJMC’s own funds under the latter’s expansion programme to upgrade its facilities.
SJMC director Datuk Syed Tamin Syed Mohamed said on April 28 that MMSG’s 17,500-sq ft facility in Taman Megah, together with the SJMC managed Klinik Rantau Petronas in Kerteh, would be the first of a chain of feeder hospitals for SJMC as well as day-care and outpatient treatment centres.
Speaking to the press after the signing ceremony in Subang Jaya on April 28, he estimated SJMC should be able to record RM15 million in profit on the back of RM175 million in revenue for the financial year ending June 30, 2005.
For FY04, he estimated profit of “about RM13 million” on the revenue of RM150 million.
On the acquisition of MMSG, Syed Tamin said it was part of the plan to make SJMC a “mothership” for a series of similar centres throughout the country.
“We’ve built SJMC to be best-in-class but our patients are all over the country. What we want is if a patient in Kedah has a problem, they don’t have to come here. If we had a centre in Alor Star, they can be examined by our doctors there,” he said.
Tamin said the MMSG acquisition would bring together SJMC’s expertise in in-patient treatment with MMSG’s expertise in out-patient treatment to create “the best overall healthcare” in the country.
The takeover is expected to lead to some “letting go” of MMSG staff and there will be a name change, he said.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 1:39 pm

Kinrara hospital is no more!

KUALA LUMPUR: The 95 Kinrara Armed Forces Hospital in Puchong, which treated thousands of military personnel for more than half a century, is no more.
The 55-year-old hospital, built by the British Army, ceased operations on Wednesday, despite pleas from many servicemen to preserve the oldest military hospital in the country.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed that the Kinrara Hospital officially ceased operations on Wednesday. It was initially supposed to stop operations on Aug 1, last year.
“The patients have all been transferred to the Science and Technology Research Institute of Defence (STRIDE) building in Jalan Padang Tembak, pending the completion of the Mindef hospital,’’ he said.
The closure of the Kinrara Hospital has upset many ex-servicemen, and the public from the neighbouring housing estates, as it was the only Government hospital where they could receive specialist treatment without having to make an appointment.
Sources said practically all the specialist clinics at the hospital have closed down and skeletal staff are manning the building now.
“The doctors and nurses report for work dutifully but have absolutely nothing to do. Whatever minimal service they were providing before has also ground to a halt and they have to turn away patients,” they added.
The Malay Mail had, on May 28 last year, reported that the millions spent on highly-trained medical specialists and equipment were going to waste due to the premature “phasing out’’ of their services, in view of the hospital’s impending closure.
As a result, the highly qualified specialists who were trained at between RM6 million and RM8 million per person by the Armed Forces, were reduced to providing treatment which ordinary GPs could perform.
Some of the specialists were transferred to the Terendak and Lumut hospitals.
Demoralised by the situation, a number of the specialists and ancillary staff left the service.
It is believed that the move to close the Kinrara hospital was to facilitate the sale of the prime land in Puchong to a private developer for about RM200 million.
Under the deal, the proceeds from the sale were to be pumped into the new Genting Klang Hospital, which is scheduled for completion in a year or two.
However, it is learnt that following the uproar over the impending closure of the hospital, the developer backed out.
Sources said Mindef officials are now unsure about what to do with the land now that Kinrara Hospital is no longer functioning.
”It is such a waste. Had they thought this thing through, they would have saved this heritage and upgraded it instead of spending an additional RM5 million for a temporary facility at the STRIDE building which lacks facilities as it is not designed for a hospital at all,’’ they said.
They said the Kinrara hospital also had some of the best equipment and facilities which even other Government hospitals do not have. It was also a training ground for medical personnel of the Armed Forces.
It is learnt that a contractor has been engaged to transfer the equipment from the hospital to the temporary facility at STRIDE.
The Kinrara hospital used to operate like a full-fledged public hospital with a 24-hour emergency department and a staff strength of 180.
It had a wide range of specialist services including orthopaedic, ear, nose and throat and obstetrics and gynaecology clinics.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:40 pm

Biotech thrust : Nine-point policy includes tax breaks

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has unveiled a national policy to give impetus to its biotechnology sector, providing tax breaks to attract private investments and setting up the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation.
The National Biotechnology Policy announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday encompasses three phases – capacity building (2005-2010), creating business out of science (2011-2015) and turning Malaysia into a global player (2016-2020).
The policy spells out nine thrusts, which include transforming and enhancing the value creation of the agricultural sector through biotechnology.
It also aims to capitalise on the strengths of biodiversity for commercial discoveries in health-related natural products.
The policy will encourage growth opportunities in the application of advanced bio-processing and bio-manufacturing technologies, and build human capital in biotechnology via education and training.
The other thrusts of the policy are to:
# APPLY competitive “lab to market” funding and incentives to promote participation by academia, the private sector and government-linked companies,
# ENSURE the country’s regulatory framework and procedures are in line with global standards and best practices,
# ESTABLISH a global marketing strategy to build brand recognition for Malaysian biotech products and applications, and benchmark progress; and,
# SET up a dedicated and professional implementation agency to oversee the development of the biotech industry.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:11 am

USM Scores A First In Rapid Diagnostics Kit For Typhoid

KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 (Bernama) — Researchers at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) have scored a world’s first in coming out with a rapid diagnostics kit for typhoid.
The kit produced by a research team headed by Prof Asma Ismail can detect the disease in patients in as little as 15 minutes.
According to a statement released by the university here Thursday, the kit named TYPHIRAPID-IgM has been used to help the Kota Bharu Hospital in Kelantan in tackling the recent outbreak of typhoid in the state.
Besides antibodies tests, the researchers also succeeded in inventing a DNA testing kit called EZTYPHI Carrier DNA to detect the presence of specific genes of the Salmonella Typhi bacteria, which causes the disease.
The team further found a new testing method for identifying carriers of typhoid more easily and accurately.
The test which uses the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) method takes about two hours to identify carriers among food operators and illegal immigrants.

April 28, 2005


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:23 pm

Heart disease taking toll on fiscal health

In 2003, cardiovascular drugs topped the list of pharmaceuticals the ministry bought from Pharmaniaga (the ministry’s major supplier), with the bill coming to RM70.2 million.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said cardiovascular diseases and their treatment consumed a substantial portion of the nation’s healthcare budget.
The ministry’s total expenditure on drugs increased from RM228 million in 1996 to RM751 million in 2003.
Dr Chua said the use of statins in the primary prevention of atherosclerosis alone cost nearly RM10 million annually.
At the National Heart Institute (IJN), subsidy payments by the Government for civil servants and poor patients rose from RM31.3 million between September 1992 and August 1993 to RM144.5 million between September 2003 and August last year.
These figures gave just a glimpse of the financial burden imposed on the Government by cardiovascular diseases.
“More funds will be channelled under the Ninth Malaysia Plan to address the risk factors in the development of cardiovascular diseases, such as diabetes, smoking, hypertension and high blood cholesterol,” he said.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:22 pm

Three kindergartens ordered closed

SEREMBAN: Three kindergartens in the state have been ordered to close temporarily after several of their pupils showed symptoms of hand, foot and mouth (HFM) disease.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said this was a precautionary measure to control the spread of the disease.
He said the kindergartens – two in Tampin and one in Seremban – were ordered closed until the health authorities give them the all-clear sign to reopen.
“We have yet to confirm whether the children are suffering from the disease and will monitor the situation.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:20 pm

300 new typhoid cases in Kelantan

Some 300 new typhoid cases have been registered in Kelantan in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 589.
Most of them are students who have the tendency to consume food sold outside, Deputy State Health director (Public Health) Dr Lila P. Mohamed Meeran said.
Investigations since the outbreak was detected two weeks ago also revealed poor sanitation and water supply systems as among the causes for the spread of the disease.
This was made worse by people living close together in most semi-urban and rural areas in Kelantan.
As of 4pm yesterday, there were 226 confirmed and 363 suspected cases.
The Kota Baru hospital had the highest number with 150 patients, Tumpat (24), Pasir Putih (21), Pasir Mas (14), Machang (10), Tanah Merah (one), Jeli (two) and Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital HUSM (80).
Dr Lila said the rest were treated in private hospitals.

April 27, 2005


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:49 pm

Sime Darby Says In Talks To Buy Medical Center

Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd. (4197.KU) said Wednesday its wholly-owned unit Subang Jaya Medical Centre Sdn. Bhd., is in discussions to acquire Megah Medical Specialists Group Sdn. Bhd.
Closely held Megah Medical operates a medical day-care center and provides other health care services.
“An announcement will be made if and when a share sale agreement is signed,” Sime Darby said in a brief statement to the local stock exchange.
The Subang Jaya Medical Centre is a private hospital that has 375 beds and 14 surgery rooms.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:01 pm

Banking on Biotechnology – A Disaster in the Making?

PENANG, Malaysia, Apr 26 (IPS) – There are fears that the Malaysian government is attempting another bad swing in the biotechnology game by welcoming clinical trials outsourced by pharmaceutical giants, where monitoring mechanisms and regulations for research could be relaxed to spawn domestic biotech ventures.
On Thursday, the government is due to unveil a national policy that will earmark biotechnology — which harnesses the science of genetics to develop medicines –as the next engine of growth for the country.
This national biotech policy comes after the disappointing Bio Valley project venture, which started in 2001 inside Malaysia’s 3.7 billion U.S. dollar Multimedia Super Corridor. Malaysian officials were hoping to attract 10 billion dollars in foreign and local investment in the biotechnology industry in 10 years – a tall order for a small domestic scientific community.
Four years later, the indications are that Bio Valley has been a dismal failure with only three companies signing up to establish plants.
Now, there is much speculation as to what the government has in mind.
”We understand it (the draft policy) was essentially farmed out to a private consultant and even among government ministries and agencies, the consultation has been unsatisfactory,” said Chee Yoke Ling, the legal advisor for Third World Network – a coalition of NGOs in the developing world.
”From the public statements made by Malaysia’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Jamaludin Jarjis, it is not clear exactly which part of the biotech world he is aspiring to,” she told IPS.
In giving broad brush glimpses of the policy, Minister Jarjis said, ”We will discuss with the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs for a complete review of IP (intellectual property) laws. Otherwise, the foreign biotechnology giants will not outsource their clinical trials in our country.”
It appears that Jamaludin may want to follow the footsteps of India where monitoring mechanisms and regulations for research are relaxed in order to encourage the setting up of contact research organisations (CROs) to take up the business of experimenting new drugs for pharmaceutical giants.
Clinical trials performed on humans, animals or cells are estimated to cost only one-tenth in Asia as compared to the United States and Europe.
A report by Sandhya Srinivasan of the India Resource Center indicated that in the case of India, the middleman and CROs, for instance, could collect up to two million dollars while spending only 20,000 dollars on initial research outlay. He said the huge profit margin was made using the poor and sick of India ”as raw materials”.
The report goes on to add that unethical practices by drug companies and CROs are common, and the ones bearing the brunt are usually the unsuspecting Indian people in areas where the clinical trials are conducted. ”Mostly, patients do not know that they are on experimental drugs,” the report claims.
The 1964 Helsinki Declaration on ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects, in an updated note added last year, states clearly that ”at the conclusion of the study, every patient entered into the study should be assured of access to the best proven prophylactic, diagnostic and therapeutic methods identified by the study”.
But the Indian Resource Center report explicitly points out that most of the time these patients are shortchanged. ”There is no guarantee that the drug will be made available post-trial.”
Critics are concerned that the same thing could happen in Malaysia should the country take this biotech route.
Jamaludin’s promise to have a one-stop agency to cut the red tape for foreign biotech companies has also created fear among certain quarters.
Beth Burrows, president of the Edmonds Institute – a U.S.-based public interest group that looks into biosafety issues – cautioned that turning off the alarm bells, just to invite investment from multinational biotech companies, was tantamount to courting disaster.
”Bravo to Malaysia, if it takes the route of biosafety research!” said Burrows.
”Good regulation is efficiency in the long run – it can help a country to have safe, dependable products on the market, build trust with consumers worldwide and thereby sustainable markets and avoid human health and environmental disasters as well as long term clean up and litigation costs.”
But Malaysia’s neighbours could thwart the country’s dreams by putting up strong competition for investment in a highly capital-intensive biotech industry.
Australia, Japan, South Korea and China have all introduced new legislation and provided funding to jumpstart their life-science industry. Singapore, for example, set aside two billion dollars to offer as incentive to attract leading research corporations and to invest in local and foreign biotech start-ups. To bolster its universities’ research capabilities, Singapore is also offering competitive salaries to attract professors from top-ranked U.S. institutions – something Malaysia is finding difficult to do.
”Many developing countries aspire towards this goal (of having a lucrative biotech industry). Nonetheless, they go about this without very clear specific understanding of the various aspects of the industry,” said Third World Network’s Chee. ”It’s a very risky venture, especially since public funds will be spent.”
A study of 51 biotech centers in the U.S. by the Brookings Institution revealed that it often takes a decade or more to develop biotechnology-based products and perhaps one in 1,000 patented biotech innovations produces a successful commercial product.
The study also shows that most biotechnology firms are quite small and typically contract with global pharmaceutical firms to produce, market, and distribute successful products rather than attempting to create their own capacity to do so.
The losses, too, have been tremendous. According to the accounting firm Ernst and Young, publicly traded biotechnology companies in the U.S. lost 41 billion dollars from 1990 to 2003.
As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions gone astray and Malaysia’s national biotechnology policy might be another headstone in a graveyard of investors’ dreams

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