Pfizer honoured for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
The world’s largest pharmaceutical company has been recognised by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its commitment to the environment. The EPA has honoured Pfizer’s award-winning Energy and Climate Change Program, which reduced total greenhouse gas emissions by 43% per million dollars of revenue from 2000 to 2007.
These reductions, which exceeded Pfizer’s original goal of 35%, were achieved in partnership with the EPA’s Climate Leaders Program.
“Climate change is the world’s greatest global environmental challenge and has the potential to adversely impact the health of millions of people,” said Natale S. Ricciardi, president of Pfizer Global Manufacturing.
Due to the leadership of its Global Energy and Climate Change Team and the efforts of colleagues worldwide, Pfizer exceeded its GHG reduction goals by implementing more than 1,000 projects during the duration of the goal.
“As the largest researchbased biomedical and pharmaceutical company, we have a responsibility to act proactively on environmental health issues. By voluntarily reducing our GHG emissions and promoting energy conservation, we hope to increase awareness and encourage others to do the same.”
The projects included installing a combined heating and power system at its Singapore facility; a geothermal system at its site in Freiburg, Germany; a solar panel system at its LaJolla, California facility; and boiler efficiency upgrades at its Kalamazoo, Michigan site, as well as many smaller projects.
Pfizer has also taken steps to improve the fuel efficiency in its sales fleet through several approaches including raising driver awareness of efficient driving methods and increased use of fuel cards, dual-fuel, and hybrid vehicles in certain markets.
Ricciardi said Pfizer pledges to reduce total global GHG emissions by an additional 20% from 2008 to 2012.
New global blueprint to treat childhood cancer
A scientist at The Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital in the United Kingdom, has led an international study to develop a global blueprint for the treatment of the most common childhood cancer – neuroblastoma, which affects an estimated 11,000 children each year worldwide.
The 25-country report has been led by Professor Andy Pearson at The Institute and The Royal Marsden Hospital, with the results published in two papers in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 1 December 2008.
Prof Pearson, alongside coauthor Professor Susan Cohn at the University of Chicago, is extremely optimistic about improving standards of care for all neuroblastoma patients “This tailored strategy will hopefully replace the existing ‘one size fits all’ approach utilised across the world.
It streamlines the process for identifying what stage the disease is at and how aggressive it is, and clearly identifies how much treatment each child should receive,” Prof Pearson said. “In this way, we hope that children with neuroblastoma will receive the best possible chance of a cure, keeping the level of treatment and the associated side-effects to a minimum.”
The new strategy will be used by the International Neuroblastoma Risk Group (INRG) which represents paediatric oncologists treating neuroblastoma patients in Europe, Japan, the USA, Canada, and Australia. Survival rates overall for children with cancer have improved dramatically in recent years.
However, more than half of children with neuroblastoma will present the aggressive, high-risk disease, which is more likely to relapse and is linked with a poor rate of recovery.
“How neuroblastoma attacks the body varies dramatically in each patient and, up until now, it has been difficult to accurately predict the progression of the disease. With these systems, we will be able to choose appropriate treatments based on the evidence of relevant risk factors,” Prof Pearson says.
Neuroblastoma, a cancer of the developing nervous system, is one of the most common types of childhood cancers, causing 15% of all childhood cancer deaths in the UK.
Its different forms vary in severity: while some cases in young children disappear with minimal treatment, cases in older children can be relentlessly aggressive. Identifying the form is therefore crucial in planning appropriate treatment.
The first of the two papers proposes the International Neuroblastoma Risk Group (INRG) classification system. The paper focuses on the personalisation of treatment by classifying neuroblastoma based on 13 factors. The second paper replaces the current four stage system of diagnosis of neuroblastoma based on a new International Neuroblastoma Risk Group Staging System (INRGSS.)
Cardiomed opens new manufacturing plant in China
Canada-based CardioMed will soon introduce its new line of cardiovascular extracorporeal circulation (CEC) devices, following the opening of its new state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in China.
CardioMed says the growth in the incidence of open heart cardiovascular surgery continues to put pressure on manufacturing companies specialising in cardiovascular devices and disposables to keep increasing their output.
CardioMed’s new plant in Tianjin will cater to this demand. CardioMed’s new plant will specialise in the production of CEC devices. The company says it takes pride in being able to price its CEC devices lower than those of any other manufacturer in the world, CardioMed is entering its 30th year of manufacturing with a product line that includes a wide variety of cardiovascular products from CEC, canullas, heart cooling jackets and arterial filters, to name a few.
Trained to meet the most stringent quality assurance standards, CardioMed’s highly skilled staff work in unison to custom assemble precision perfusion and cardiovascular devices.
Appeal to have WHO recognise psoriasis
To raise awareness of psoriasis, national psoriasis associations around the world came together on 29 October – World Psoriasis Day.
This year national psoriasis associations warned their governments that psoriasis is a severe disease that will generate enormous direct or indirect costs on the society, if people suffering from the disease are not provided the best treatment and modern medicine in order to keep the disease under control.
The national psoriasis associations also appealed for the support of their governments to have the World Health Organisation (WHO) include psoriasis in the WHO Strategy for Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases.
“We hope that psoriasis will be accepted as a severe chronic, non-communicable inflammatory disease and that support from world leading experts will make the best treatments available all over the world,” said Lars Ettarp, President of IFPA, International Federation of Psoriasis Associations.
“It is unbelievable and unacceptable that there still is stigmatisation and discrimination caused by psoriasis when it could be avoided,” he said. In the developing countries, psoriasis and its symptoms of skin changes are often confused for other infectious and serious diseases that have skin symptoms such as, fungal infections, leprosy, leishmaniasis, syphilis or even HIV/AIDS.
Conceived by patients for patients, World Psoriasis Day is a global event that focuses on the burden of living with psoriasis, a burden that can be prevented.
There are more than 125 million people with psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis in the world. Psoriasis is a severe chronic inflammatory disease that effects all ages, genders, races and ethnicities. People with psoriasis exhibit a wide range of symptoms.
Most face a very poor quality of life because they are undertreated, or treatments are not correctly prescribed, are very expensive or may cause serious side effects. Psoriasis has a huge impact on people’s lives – physically, mentally, socially and socioeconomically.
● The International Federation of Psoriasis Associations – www.ifpa-pso.org
Toshiba partners with Maquet for hybrid OR
Toshiba America Medical Systems is partnering with surgical table manufacturer, Maquet, to develop a hybrid OR using Toshiba’s Infinix-i product line and Maquet’s versatile surgical table top options.
The partnership will enable hospitals to have a seamless transition from endovascular imaging to surgical intervention on a single system, The partnership combines the Infinix-i systems’ leading image quality and versatility with a complete range of innovative Maquet table top options, which range from general surgery to radiologyspecific.
“Because ceiling-mounted systems are typically best suited for a hybrid operating room setting, these table tops match perfectly with Toshiba’s Infinix CC-i and Infinix VC-i systems,” the company said.
“The Toshiba and MAQUET partnership provides physicians with a single system for imaging and surgical procedures, without compromising image quality or safety,” said Robert Micer, director, X-ray Vascular Business Unit, Toshiba.
“Not only does this partnership help improve patient care and access, it offers better asset utilisation for hospitals. By having a system in an operating room that can perform multiple procedures, hospitals can ensure that hybrid suite settings are utilised for more than just surgery.
They can also be used for diagnostic and interventional imaging procedures, as well as hybrid procedures that involve surgeons and interventionalists working together.”
Dr Mark E. Galantowicz, chief of cardiothoracic surgery, co-director of The Heart Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and associate professor of surgery at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, said: “Unlike catheterisation suites, this hybrid operating suite by Toshiba and Maquet is designed specifically around the cardiac surgeon, cardiac interventionalist and cardiac surgical patient, offering new advanced access and imaging in the operating room, without having to move patients.”
Universal HIV testing may reduce new cases by 95%
Universal HIV testing and immediate antiretroviral (ARV) drugs could reduce new infections in high-prevalence countries by as much as 95% within ten years, according to a new study by scientists from the UN World Health Organisation (WHO).
The findings of the mathematical modelling exercise, published on 26 November in the British medical journal, The Lancet, suggest that immediate treatment – regardless of clinical or immunological evaluations such as CD4 count (which measures the strength of the immune system) – could significantly reduce new infections in many sub-Saharan African countries.
“We took available data from southern Africa, where the epidemic is generalised and transmitted mainly through heterosexual sex, and plugged it into a computer model,” Reuben Granich, a medical officer with WHO’s department of HIV/AIDS and lead author of the study, told IRIN/PlusNews.
“The model found that if all adults were tested at least once a year and put on treatment immediately, then theoretically prevalence would reduce from 20,000 per million people annually to 1,000 per million people annually within 10 years.” Granich said the model worked on the assumption that once patients started taking ARVs, their viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood) was significantly reduced and they became much less likely to transmit the virus.
“The purpose of this study was to stimulate discussion and help define research questions on how to use ARVs, not only for treatment, but also for HIV prevention,” Kevin De Cock, director of WHO’s department of HIV/AIDS and co-author of the study, told IRIN/PlusNews.
“The study does not in any way indicate a change in WHO policy or guidelines for testing and treatment,” he added. WHO policy on treatment stipulates voluntary testing and clinical evaluation to determine eligibility for ARV treatment.
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