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Merck, Wellcome Trust Back Project To Develop Improved Rotavirus Vaccine For Developing Countries

“A joint venture between U.S. drugmaker Merck and Britain’s Wellcome Trust charity said on Monday it is working on an oral rotavirus vaccine designed to be cheaper and easier to use than current shots,” Reuters reports. “Hilleman Laboratories, an India-based joint venture set up on a not-for-profit basis in 2009, said the vaccine will aim to protect against diarrhea-causing rotavirus infections and will be based on thin strips or granules that dissolve in the mouth and can be easily transported, stored and administered.”

U.S., China Announce Public-Private Health Care Partnership

In conjunction with the state visit to the U.S. by Chinese President Hu Jintao, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and several other federal agencies on Wednesday announced a new public-private health care partnership between the U.S. and China, Modern Healthcare reports (Blesch, 1/19).

RTS,S Offers 46 Percent Protection Against Malaria For At Least 15 Months After Vaccination, Study Finds

A Phase II trial published Friday in Lancet Infectious Diseases has shown that RTS,S, the “experimental malaria vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline provides African children with long-lasting protection” against malaria, Reuters reports. “Scientists conducting the mid-stage trial at the Kenya Medical Research Institute said results showing the shot offered 46 percent protection for 15 months meant it had ‘promise as a potential public health intervention against childhood malaria in malaria endemic countries’,” the news service notes (Kelland, 1/14).

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‘Ethical Issues Raised By PrEP Are Difficult, But Not Insurmountable': “The AIDS movement is at a pivotal point in history, where it will face scrutiny not only to demonstrate that interventions are cost-effective and equitably distributed, but also to balance resource demands with other global health imperatives, such as maternal/child…

Also In Global Health News: NGOs, Business Schools; India’s Growing Presence In Africa; Water, Sanitation In Indonesia; Malaria Vaccine Trials

Financial Times Reports On Oxfam’s MBA Workshops Financial Times explores how the NGO Oxfam has started to “develop ethical trade workshops for MBA students in UK business schools, with a particular focus on overseas students” in the “hopes that by targeting the next generation of business leaders, it can influence…

Lancet World Report Examines Health Risks Associated With Inaccurate TB Tests, WHO’s Upcoming Recommendations

With “scores of commercial serology tests for tuberculosis … being sold in high-burden countries,” the “WHO is due to release a negative policy recommendation – the first of its kind for the organisation” – after several reviews have “indicated poor performance of these tests,” Lancet World Report writes in a piece that documents the health risks associated with a growing number of inaccurate TB tests. However, “[m]anufacturers continue to claim that their tests are effective and fill a diagnostic niche, especially in sputum smear-negative patient groups,” the journal notes.

New York Times Reports On Rise, Fall Of Microloans In Developing Countries

The New York Times reports on how microlending has “prompted political hostility in Bangladesh, India, Nicaragua and other developing countries.” Such negativity “toward microfinance is a sharp reversal from the praise and good will that politicians, social workers and bankers showered on the sector in the last decade.” The article notes “[p]hilanthropists and investors poured billions of dollars into nonprofit and profit-making microlenders, who were considered vital players” in helping to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including the MDG target to halve extreme poverty by 2015. Such attention “helped the sector reach more than 91 million customers, most of them women, with loans totaling more than $70 billion by the end of 2009,” with half of all borrowers from India and Bangladesh.

Indian Drugmaker Seeks To Make, Sell Generic Version Of Pfizer’s HIV Drug

The Indian drugmaker Natco Pharma “said Wednesday it has informed Pfizer Inc. that it wants to make and sell a low-cost generic version of the U.S. company’s [drug] maraviroc for treating the HIV infection under a so-called ‘compulsory license’ [CL],” Dow Jones Newswires/Smart Money reports. “Natco Pharma’s move is significant because, if successful, the Indian generic drug maker will set a precedent for other Indian companies to override multinational drug makers’ patents for the treatments of diseases ranging from cancer to hypertension,” according to the new service.