Thursday, January 10, 2013

Private equity pours money into India's primary healthcare

According to recent trends Private equity funds are investing more and more in India's primary healthcare, betting the sick and ailing will stop seeing family doctors in often cramped and dingy quarters and check into modern chains sprouting up all across the country.

The opportunity is vast as India's unorganized primary healthcare system is worth $30 billion and is growing at least 25 percent a year but the challenge will be convincing the sick to give up their trusted family doctors.

While fees at modern clinics range from 150 to 600 rupees for treatment of routine illness, sole general practitioners charge patients anything between 50 and 300 rupees per visit.

However, organized healthcare providers including Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd and Fortis Healthcare Ltd are betting that growing numbers of patients will be willing to pay two or three times more for better-equipped clinics - all under a model that can be replicated fast and offers investors the potential for quick returns.

According to Santanu Chattopadhyay, CEO of NationWide Primary Healthcare Services,"The family doctor concept is slowly phasing out as migrants in cities look out for a brand rather than visiting a general physician next door".

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Iceberg phenomenon of disease

The pattern of disease encountered in a hospital is quite different from that in a community.

In the community/society a far larger proportion of disease (e.g., diabetes, hypertension) is hidden from view  of the general public or physician.

In this context the analogy of an iceberg is widely used to describe the disease pattern in the community.

The concept of the "iceberg phenomenon of disease"gives an idea of the progress of a disease from its sub-clinical stages to overt or apparent disease state.

The submerged portion of the iceberg represents the hidden mass of the disease (e.g., sub­clinical cases, carriers, undiagnosed cases).

The floating tip represents what the physician sees in his practice/chamber/hospital etc.

The remaining Large Hidden part of the iceberg is what constitutes the mass of unrecognized disease in the community.

New Method For Uncovering Side Effects Before A Drug Hits The Market

Side effects are a major reason that drugs are taken off the market and a major reason why patients stop taking their medications, but scientists are now reporting the development of a new way to predict those adverse reactions ahead of time. The report on the method, which could save patients from severe side effects and save drug companies time and money, appears in ACS' Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling.

Yoshihiro Yamanishi and colleagues explain that drug side effects are a major health problem - the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. - which by some estimates claim 100,000 lives every year. Serious side effects are the main reason why existing drugs must be removed from the market and why pharmaceutical companies halt development of new drugs after investing millions of dollars. Current methods of testing for side effects are costly and inaccurate. That's why the scientists sought to develop a new computer-based approach to predicting possible side effects.

They show the usefulness of their proposed method on simultaneous prediction of 969 side effects of 658 drugs that already are in wide medical use. The method is based on knowledge about chemical and biological information about ingredients in these medications. They also used the approach to identify possible side effects for many uncharacterized molecules. Based on that work, the scientists conclude that the new method could be helpful in uncovering serious side effects early in the development and testing of new drugs, avoiding costly investment in medications unsuitable for marketing.