Genetic Testing

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, people’s perception of healthcare has undergone a change. While the top 10 causes of death in India continue to be non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cardiac diseases, and respiratory diseases, these are easily preventable/ manageable if addressed at an early stage through vital screening and consultation at regular intervals. Furthermore, routine testing might reduce the severity of rare disorders, including auto-immune deficiencies, and also help lower cancer-induced mortality.

Continue Reading Genetic Testing: A new doorway towards opportunities, challenges in preventive healthcare

Pharmaceutical and Healthcare

Since the inception of the ‘world wide web’, no other technology in the digital space has caught the attention of the world quite like ‘blockchain’. It has the potential to be a gamechanger with its promise of unmatched data security. Even though the implementation/ application of blockchain’s much-coveted underlying technology into various other industries has been a very recent phenomenon, the learned are already prophesising about  its ability  to shepherd us into a completely new way of network interactions and data storage. This future reality has been nick-named  ‘Web3’.

Continue Reading Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Industry: A Case for Regulation Through Blockchain

Consent in Healthcare

In Part 1 of this series (Consent in Healthcare: Outline, Gaps and Conundrum), we presented a brief regulatory background on informed consent in healthcare in India, as well as judicial pronouncements on the topic. We also focussed on specific methods of obtaining consent as prescribed by such regulations.

In this section, we’ll look at the practical implications of such legislations and rulings, particularly in the context of telemedicine and digital health, as well as instances in which the patient is unable to provide consent.

Continue Reading Consent in Healthcare: Outline, Gaps and Conundrum (Part 2)

Consent in Healthcare

Informed consent is the bedrock of ethical medical practice. It is when a medical practitioner explains a medical treatment, irrespective of whether it is simple, sophisticated, fundamental, or specific, to a patient, before the patient agrees to it. It is crucial from a liability perspective as well. The Delhi High Court, in a recent order[1], noted with concern the absence of informed consent taken from a patient who underwent a hair transplant, which resulted in complications, leading to death of the said patient. The Court pointed out that hair transplantation, being an aesthetic surgery, needs to be performed by qualified dermatologists or trained surgeons with informed consent of the patient. While this matter relates to the limited aspect of informed consent in a cosmetic surgery setting, the issues raised in the case may have broader implications.

Continue Reading Consent in Healthcare: Outline, Gaps and Conundrum (Part 1)

In Search of a Vaccine for Covid-19 - A Race to The Finish

The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on mankind, infecting well over 13 million, and claiming over half a million lives. It has also severely impacted economies across the world. Our healthcare infrastructure has been pushed to its limits and our frontline healthcare professionals are working to the brink of exhaustion, risking their own lives to save others. We bow to them.

In the midst of all this, scientists across the world are working feverishly to find a vaccine for this disease. The hopes of billions rest on this. The World Health Organization (“WHO”) has (as of July 15, 2020) declared that there are about 23 potential vaccine candidates that are currently in various stages of clinical trials[1]. Out of these 23 vaccines, vaccines being developed by: (a) Sinovac (inactivated +alum); and (b) University of Oxford / AstraZeneca has entered into the Phase-III of its clinical trials[2]. In addition, as of July 15, 2020, there are around 140 vaccine candidates in preclinical evaluation (trials not commenced).
Continue Reading In Search of a Vaccine for Covid-19: A Race to The Finish

FDI in Brownfield Pharma – Will COVID-19 be the catalyst for policy reforms

The pharma sector has gained renewed global attention due to the crisis brought about by COVID-19, a pandemic having an unprecedented impact on health and wellbeing of citizens across geographical boundaries. It is estimated that around 76 pharma companies across the world are in a race to develop and mass-produce an effective vaccine in the fight against COVID-19[1]. Indian pharma companies too are playing a vital role in this search.[2] The Indian pharmaceutical industry has responded to the rapid challenges arising from disruption in supply chains and is working in an integrated manner to drive local expertise by production and export of essential formulation to countries across the globe, and live up to its title as the ‘Pharmacy of the World’.
Continue Reading FDI in Brownfield Pharma – Will COVID-19 be the Catalyst for Policy Reforms?

Patent Licensing in times of Covid-19 Pandemic

The entire world has been grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic for some time now, and efforts are on to find a treatment protocol and vaccine. Several drugs and treatment therapies are being tried and tested to find a cure for this pandemic. In the middle of this fervent R&D activity, some questions come to mind — what about IP protection? How would companies commercialise a cure — if and when it is finally found? How would the cure be available to the public en-masse at affordable prices? Enter patent law and the aspect of Licencing.
Continue Reading To Protect or Not to Protect that is the Question : Patent Licensing in times of Covid-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 TEST KITS. A CHEAT SHEET

The COVID-19 pandemic has literally brought the world to a standstill. Large scale infections have resulted in lockdowns across the globe. At this critical juncture, testing continues to remain the most important step to get a grip over the situation. The situation in India is no different. With an upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases in India, the need for largesse testing has become paramount. Low availability of test kits remains a cause of great concern to the government and healthcare practitioners. This is compounded by our massive populace, given the quantity that is required in the current scenario. This lack of availability of test kits is primarily because India does not have adequate indigenous manufacturing units of COVID-19 test kits and relies heavily on imported kits.

From a regulatory standpoint, such kits fall under the category of ‘in-vitro diagnostic’ kits under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (D&C Act) read with the Medical Devices Rules, 2017 (MD Rules) and are regulated as ‘medical devices’[1].
Continue Reading COVID-19 Test Kits. A Cheat Sheet

DIAL-A-DOCTOR-A-look-at-the-Telemedicine-Practice-Guidelines-2020

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (“MoHFW”), on March 25, 2020, issued the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines (“Guidelines”) providing Registered Medical Practitioners (“RMPs”) with guidelines to treat patients remotely by using the telemedicine tools at their disposal.

Concepts such as telemedicine have gained prominence pursuant to the rapid development of information technology and the need to service the requirements of patients who may not be able to visit healthcare facilities, or have little to no access to the same. Such services involve the transfer of medical information and expertise through telecommunication and computer technologies and aim to facilitate diagnosis, treatment and management of patients. Currently, in India, platforms such as ‘practo’ and ‘DocOnline’ exist which facilitate online medical consultations albeit in a restricted manner given stringent regulatory controls on the practice of medicine. Though such platforms would help to deliver widespread healthcare services, there exist several concerns that exist about the medicolegal implications of telemedicine relating to registration, licensing, insurance, quality, privacy and confidentiality issues, as well as other risks associated with electronic health care communication.
Continue Reading DIAL A DOCTOR- A look at the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines, 2020

COVID-19 - A lot done, more needs to be done

With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring Coronavirus or COVID-19 a pandemic, it is now essential that countries and organisations that have the ability to find solutions come together, share information as much as possible and work together across borders. Already, experts are worried that the impact of Covid-19 may surpass that of the 2008 global downturn. Till date, globally, nearly 4,71,417 people have tested positive and approximately 21,295 have lost their lives to the deadly virus. On the date of drafting this article, the number of COVID-19 positive cases in India had crossed 700 (seven hundred), with 14 (fourteen) people succumbing to the disease. India is now under a full government ordered 21-day lockdown. A cure remains elusive till date. But in the words of famous author Louisa May Alcott, ‘Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds’. And it is this light that India needs to focus on in order to secure a future that survives the present.
Continue Reading COVID-19: A lot done, more needs to be done