This was a stormy week for healthcare. Mexico mourned the death of former Minister of Health, Jesús Kumate, and some states faced a mumps scare. In international news, Novartis suddenly found itself in the eye of the storm. The DRC is also facing trouble with a new Ebola outbreak and pharmaceutical Takeda saw a drop on its shares after its decision to buy Shire. On Tuesday, World Thalassemia Day raised awareness of this genetic blood disease and Luye Pharma Group brought AstraZeneca’s schizophrenia drug.
Doctors also reported that HIV “cousin,” the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), had gained strength in regions in northern Australia. The retrovirus has been known to cause leukemia, lymphoma and bronchiectasis.
Furthermore, Jeimy Pedraza, Laboratory Director of Estudio Ingenes, spoke with Mexico Health Review on the most common fertility problems in Mexico.
Now, dig in for highlights of last week:
Jesús Kumate, Mexico’s former Minister of Health, died on Monday, May 7, at 93 years of age. Besides being a public official, Dr. Kumate was a researcher and a pediatrician.
Mexico had a minor mumps scare after a reminder placed in some universities in Mexico City, Chihuahua and Sonora, was misinterpreted as an epidemiological threat. The Ministry of Health clarified the number of cases detected to this date, about 2,600, are well within Mexico’s annual rate, as the country has 5,000 cases of mumps per year.
Pharmaceutical giant Novartis hogged the spotlight, but not for good reasons. Its Novartis Investment division has become embroiled in the lawsuit against President Donald Trump presented by Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels. The company was discovered to have paid almost US$400,000 between October 2017 and January 2018 to a shell company used by the President’s attorney, Michael Cohen, to pay US$130,000 in hush money to Clifford.
Later, a Novartis employee said that the company had retained Michael Cohen, who promised access to Trump and his circle over the course of a year for a total of US$1.2 million. Novartis told media that it had also been contacted by lawyers from Special Counsel Robert Muller’s office late in 2017, with whom it was fully cooperating. Novartis CEO, Vas Narasimhan, who was not part of the company’s decision to hire Cohen, called it a “mistake.”
Tuesday was World Thalassemia Day, celebrated every May 8 to raise awareness of this genetic blood disease.
The DRC reports a new Ebola outbreak, which has killed at least 17 people in what is now the ninth time the disease has been recorded in the country.
After weeks of will it or won’t it, Takeda finally announced its decision to buy Shire for US$62 billion in what is now considered the largest takeover from a Japanese company in history. Considering that Takeda is estimated to be worth only US$33 billion, investors are worried about whether the Japanese giant will take on too much debt, concerns that brought its share price down by 18 percent right after the decision was announced.
AstraZeneca sold its rights to schizophrenia drug Seroquel to Luye Pharma Group for US$538 million.