Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

States struggle to update toxic chemical regulation

From the 5 December 2011 article By Jim Malewitz, Stateline Staff Writer at Stateline

…..

Patchwork of policies

In the past decade, at least 18 states have adopted more than 71 chemical policies – largely with bipartisan support. The policies range from compiling comprehensive lists of hazardous chemicals, as in Washington, California, Maine and Minnesota, to more piecemeal prohibition of chemicals used in manufacturing. In October, for instance, California became one of 11 states to ban the use of bisphenol A – a chemical commonly known as BPA that is thought to inhibit children’s development – from use in infant feeding containers. New York recently became the first state to prohibit manufacturers from using a toxic flame retardant called “chlorinated Tris” in children’s goods.

But state environmental officials say such regulations are burdensome to enact, because, like EPA, state agencies have trouble compiling necessary information on each chemical. In Washington State, Sturdevant says “it’s a lot of work for a lot of folks” to research chemical hazards – a process that can take years for just one chemical.

Dan Wyant, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, agrees. “States do not have the resources to develop 50 individual state chemical management plans across the country,” he said in a release calling for federal reform.

Furthermore, uneven state-by-state rules can make regulating large, complex bodies of water, such the Great Lakes, especially difficult. Even if some states prove able to limit the toxic chemicals that get into the waters, those same substances may still turn up nearby, coming from states with less strict oversight. Some of the most worrisome chemicals in these waters, state environmental officials say, are bioaccumulative toxics, or PBTs – those that are absorbed by organisms and transferred up the food chain.

The inconsistency of policing substances such as PBTs has led many in the chemical industry to call for more federal oversight. One federal policy would be easier to navigate than a “complex maze of regulations across the country,” says Robert Matthews, who represents the Consumer Specialty Products Association. …

December 6, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Tipping points — the future of the pharmaceutical industry

Tipping points — the future of the pharmaceutical industry

From the February 4, 2011 Eureka news alert

This declining trend is blamed on a failure of innovative drive in the industry, failure of the UK to support basic research, failure of venture capital to invest in early stage research, or failure of the Health Service to provide smart procurement.

A research centre funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) shows that radical reform of the drugs industry regulatory system must be an important part of the solution to ensure a productive and profitable pharmaceutical sector, both globally and in the UK.

Researchers from the ESRC’s Innogen centre have studied the innovation models in the pharmaceutical industry and how the industry has been able to remain sustainable for so long. The results of their research show that the lengthy and expensive regulatory system that now applies to most products of the life sciences is causing innovation failure.

Regulation has a large impact on the kinds of product that are developed by any industry sector: it is designed to ensure that products are safe, effective and of high quality. Innogen’s research demonstrates that the impacts of regulation in pharmaceuticals are more far-reaching: they determine overall company strategies; which types of companies succeed; and ultimately the structure and dynamism of the sector as a whole. Under current circumstances regulation prevents the development of the radically innovative technologies that could provide opportunities for the sector to become more effective in developing innovative products. Innogen research has predicted that the industry is approaching a tipping point in the not too distant future.

Professor Joyce Tait comments “We do not need less regulation, but smarter regulation, that can deliver expected standards of safety and efficacy, are flexible enough to respond to new scientific discoveries and can do so more efficiently than our current systems within a shorter time frame.”

Innogen research also shows that policymakers and governments need an understanding of all the major causes and relevant options available. Radical regulatory reform for the life science industries needs to be a priority in discussions regarding the future of the industry. Reform could provide the lever to profitably unleash the creativity that has been so effectively generated from public funding of basic science, leading to something closer to the innovative performance that we have seen in information and communication technologies over the past twenty years.

 

February 6, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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