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Editorial (Dr SS Agarwal, Dr K K Aggarwal)
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16th December 2016
Orphan drugs and Orphan Diseases

An orphan drug is a pharmaceutical agent that has been developed specifically to treat a rare medical condition, the condition itself being referred to as an orphan disease.

Delhi High Court Judgment: Mohd. Ahmed (Minor) vs Union Of India & Ors. on 17 April, 2014, Manmohan, in the High Court of Delhi at New Delhi, WPC 7279/2013
  • On account of lack of Government planning, there is 'pricing out' of orphan drugs for rare and chronic diseases, like Gaucher. The enzyme replacement therapy is so expensive that there is a breach of constitutional obligation of the Government to provide medical aid on fair, reasonable, equitable and affordable basis. By their inaction, the Central and the State Governments have violated Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
  • Just because someone is poor, the State cannot allow him to die. 
  • In fact, Government is bound to ensure that poor and vulnerable sections of society have access to treatment for rare and chronic diseases, like Gaucher especially when the prognosis is good and there is a likelihood of the patient leading a normal life. After all, health is not a luxury and should not be the sole possession of a privileged few.
  • Although obligations under Article 21 are generally understood to be progressively realizable depending on maximum available resources, yet certain obligations are considered core and non-derogable irrespective of resource constraints. Providing access to essential medicines at affordable prices is one such core obligation.
  • The Court is under a duty to ensure that effective relief is granted. The nature of the right infringed and the nature of the infringement provides guidance as to the appropriate relief in a particular case.
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Use pain killers with caution in the elderly
New Delhi, Dec 15, 2016: Non selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and new generation selective COX-2 inhibitors commonly used to treat inflammation are now linked to an increased risk of irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation (AF), as per a Danish Research of 32602 patients at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.

In the study compared with non-users, new users (first drug within 60 days of diagnosis) showed 40% increased risk of AF with non-selective NSAIDS and 70% increased risk with COX-2 inhibitors. This means four extra cases of AF per year per 1000 new users of non-selective NSAIDS and seven extra cases of AF per 1000 new users of COX-2 inhibitors.
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