Nation spends up big on health

Australia spent nearly $181 billion on health in 2016-17, according to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report.

The report, Health expenditure Australia 2016-17, shows that health spending grew more in 2016-17 than at any time in the past 5 years.

4.7% increase in spending

‘In 2016-17, health spending grew by 4.7%, compared to an average of 3.1% each year over the past 5 years. This was also the first time spending grew more than the decade average (4.6%) since 2011-12,’ AIHW spokesperson, Dr Adrian Webster, said.

That equated to more than $7,400 spent per person – over $200 more per person than in the previous year.

Governments were the drivers of this growth.

70% of spending funded by governments

“In 2016-17, almost 70% of total health spending was funded by governments, with the federal government contributing about 41%, and state and territory governments 27%,” Dr Webster said.

Total government spending on health grew by 6.8% in real terms in 2016-17, above the decade average of 4.5%.

Tax-revenue spend on health was 27.1%

Due to the relatively rapid growth in government spending, the proportion of tax revenue spent on health increased in 2016-17 following a period of relative stability (rising by 0.8 percentage points to 27.1%).

The rise in total government spending was related to an increase in spending for public hospital services ($1.3 billion in

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By | October 7th, 2018|Business|

$16m clinical trial for glaucoma-drug insertion that’s effective for 6 months

A Melbourne-based biotech, PolyActiva, has attracted $16 million in venture capital for a clinical trial of a unique eye implant that experts say can sharply improve treatment of the blindness-causing condition.

PolyActiva’s ‘polymer prodrug’ technology virtually eliminates human error by delivering the solution via a tiny ocular implant that is almost invisible alongside a 5¢ piece.

Implant biodegrades and disappears within 90 days

The implant can be inserted in the eye using a customised applicator in an ophthalmologist’s office. Once the treatment is completed the implant biodegrades and disappears within 90 days.

Reliably delivering drugs to the eye without the need for human intervention is a ‘holy grail’ for ophthalmologists.

Current treatment requires the patient to self-administer four drops of latanoprost ophthalmic solution – a topical medication known by the brand Xalatan – for six months, an exacting task that studies suggest defies 46 per cent of patients in some way.

Patients may forget to take the drops or do it poorly, which is bad because untreated glaucoma – a build up of pressure on the eye that the drops can relieve – often leads to blindness.

Seven patients in phase 1 clinical trial

Investors, led by Brandon Capital’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund and Yuuwa Capital, a Perth-based early stage commercialisation fund, have stumped up the $16 million to fund phase I clinical trials of the

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By | September 7th, 2018|Business|

NIB health fund’s share-price soars

The share price of private health insurance fund NIB soared by 9.2 per cent to $6.26 on 13 August after it lifted its earnings guidance thanks to a “benign” claims environment.

Also, growth in its membership, especially among international workers and students.

NIB is now expecting underlying operating profit of about $184 million for the 2018 financial year, above its previous forecast of $165 million.

The managing director of NIB, Mr Mark Fitzgibbon, said the company’s previous guidance was premised on Australian residents health insurance  business net margin towards the upper end of its 5 per cent to 6 per cent target range but it now expected it to be closer to 6.9 per  cent.

The company’s full-year results will be published next week.

By | August 27th, 2018|Business|

Australian company wins unprecedented approval for blindness-treatment drug

An Australian company has won unprecedented approval from the United-States Food and Drug Administration for a new drug to treat the second-most-common preventable cause of blindness in the world – river blindness.

The current treatment is 20 years old.

The company, Medicines Development for Global Health, based in Melbourne, has become the first not-for-profit company in the world to register a medicine with the US FDA.

Managing director of the company, Mr Mark Sullivan, said while FDA approval for the company’s drug, moxidectin, was a “momentous achievement” for any pharmaceutical company, it was “a particularly rare and exciting event” for those trying to treat neglected diseases.

The FDA gave its approval for the treatment, which is swallowed as a tablet, in June after the application was submitted in October 2017.

Mr Sullivan established the Melbourne-based not-for-profit company in 2005 with the sole purpose of filling the gap left by the big pharmaceutical companies by developing medicines that were based on need for treatment rather than the patients’ ability to afford them.

His company has been working for five years on the development of the drug and is now planning to develop it as a new treatment for scabies, a common problem in indigenous communities.

Priority review voucher scheme

The company has also won a priority review voucher under a scheme set up

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By | August 1st, 2018|Business|

EssilorLuxottica merger approved in China

Essilor and Luxottica announce that the antitrust regulator of the People’s Republic of China, SAMR, has approved the proposed combination between the two companies after they made certain commitments with regard to the conduct of their business in China.

Essilor and Luxottica committed to inform SAMR about their future acquisitions and also to ensure availability of their products and services to all customers in China on a fair basis.

These commitments are fully aligned with the future EssilorLuxottica’s mission to “help people see more, be more and live life to its fullest” and the open business model both companies promote across the globe.

Clearance from Chinese authority was the last condition precedent to the closing of the transaction and paves the way for the combination to be finalized. The two companies are also progressing with their discussions with the Turkish antitrust authority and expect the closing of the transaction at the end of the third quarter.

By | August 1st, 2018|Business|

Essilor and Luxottica extend deadline for merger-agreement signing

Essilor and Luxottica have announced extension of the deadline of both the Combination Agreement and Contribution Agreement signed between Essilor and Delfin, Luxottica’s majority shareholder, to 31 July.

The reason is the Chinese competition authority has not yet approved the contemplated merger between Essilor and Luxottica, a prior condition for finalization.

The parties remain confident that they will succeed in completing the anti-trust processes in China and Turkey in the coming weeks.

The first general meeting of EssilorLuxottica shareholders which was scheduled for 25 July will be reconvened by the EssilorLuxottica’s directors for a later date to be announced as soon as possible.

Financial analysts have estimated the value of the combined company to be between $US55 billion and $58 billion.

By | July 19th, 2018|Business|

Vision business helps increase J&J’s quarterly results

 Johnson & Johnson has announced sales of $US20.8 billion in the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 10.6% from 2017’s second quarter totals, according to a company press release.

Net earnings for the quarter were $4 billion, or $1.45 per diluted share, which included an after-tax intangible amortisation expense of about $1 billion, as well as a charge for after-tax special items of $0.8 billion, the release said.

Adjusted net earnings for the quarter, excluding the amortisation expense and special items, were $5.7 billion, or $2.10 per share.

The company’s vision business, which includes Acuvue contact lenses and surgical products, helped drive its worldwide operational results, the release said.

Worldwide medical device sales were up 3.7% for the quarter to $7 billion with an operational increase of 1.9%. Domestic sales increased 1.1% and international sales were up by 6%.

Worldwide pharmaceutical sales increased 19.9% to $10.4 billion in the quarter, with an operational increase of 17.6%.

By | July 19th, 2018|Business|

Colgate-Palmolive invests in contact-lens company

Colgate-Palmolive Co has made an investment in Hubble, the contact-lens subscription service, a Colgate-Palmolive spokesman has confirmed to VMail.

The spokesman said on 9 July: “Online subscriptions are already a fast-growing part of our Hill’s pet nutrition business, which began with Amazon five years ago. Our strategy is to expand direct-to-consumer initiatives in selected product categories, and the investment with Hubble will accelerate our progress.”

Hubble, which markets its own brand of contact lenses via its subscription service, announced in the summer of 2017 a $US10 million financing round.

The news of a potential partnership between Hubble and Colgate-Palmolive was reported the prior week by The Wall Street Journal, which said Colgate would take a minority ownership position in the contact-lens startup and that the companies would explore the possibility of developing subscription services to sell certain Colgate items, such as teeth-whitening products.

A Hubble spokeswoman declined to comment on the newspaper’s report.

Hubble launched in November 2016 and has grown at a rapid rate. It also has raised more than $30 million in venture capital.

The subscription service offers consumers their first box of Hubble contact lenses for free, according to the company’s website.

By | July 19th, 2018|Business|

J&J ordered to pay $US4.69 billion to 22 women

Johnson & Johnson on 12 July was ordered to pay $US4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

A jury in a Missouri circuit court awarded $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatory damages to the women, who had accused the company of failing to warn them about cancer risks associated with its baby and body powders.

Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Johnson’s Baby Powder, said it was “deeply disappointed” in the verdict and planned to appeal.

The company is facing more than 9,000 plaintiffs in cases involving body powders with talc, according to a regulatory document filed this northern-hemisphere spring.

After a six-week trial, the jury in St Louis deliberated over the compensatory damages for eight hours but decided on the punitive damages in roughly 45 minutes.

Six of the women have died and one of the plaintiffs is undergoing chemotherapy and was too ill to attend the court.

It was alleged Johnson & Johnson had spent 40 years covering up evidence of asbestos in some of its talcum-based products and should mark those products with warning labels or focus on powders made with cornstarch.

The punitive damages are among the largest ever awarded in

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By | July 14th, 2018|Business|

Pfizer backs off 40 drug-price hikes after Trump offensive

Pharmaceutical-drugs behemoth Pfizer has backed off planned price increases for 40 products after pressure from United States president, Mr Donald Trump, during what has been described as “extensive talks”.

Pfizer backed away from the proposed 1-July increases after its chief executive, Mr Ian Read, met with Mr Trump.

Mr Trump wants to leave drug prices at their current levels until the end of the year, when he plans to curb high drug prices so as to provide more-affordable access to needed medicines.

He said in a tweet: “We applaud Pfizer for its decision and hope other companies do the same”.

The president’s attack on Pfizer is the latest instance of him using his ‘bully pulpit’ to challenge big US companies, including this one (Pfizer) that has supported him.

Commentators in the US say Pfizer’s sudden, last-minute reversal shows just how political an issue drug prices have become, even among Republicans, who have long supported drug manufacturers, and why the firms have taken steps to ward off punitive actions by limiting the frequency and magnitude of their price increases.

By | July 14th, 2018|Business|