SJOG empire expands
St John of God Healthcare expansion continues – a new day surgery centre in Albany and expansion and redevelopment of its Murdoch site. The latter will lift beds from 334 to 400, add two new operating theatres, refurbish the ED, and expand imaging and pathology areas. Plans include an Education Centre for medical and nursing training, presumably to tie in with Notre Dame University. The Albany facility, due for completion mid 2006, will be the first new facility developed by SJOG since Murdoch opened in 1994.
Pathology players jostle for market share
Competition in the pathology sector remains high, with the Financial Review reporting that St John of God Pathology has lost positions in GP surgeries to Mayne Pathology, which has been offering substantial increases in rent. The report claimed that Mayne had offered to pay a WA surgery $100,000 pa in rent for a pathology room, far in excess of St John of God’s $30,000. A Mayne spokesman reportedly said it was normal competitive practice and St John of God was the losing bidder, whereas the SJOG spokesman accused Mayne of aggressively seeking volume. Figures show pathology services rose in the year to June 30, 2005 – under the pathology agreement’s cap on spending, prices can be adjusted downward if the cap is exceeded. High rents to private practices have been an open secret for some time.
Arrow finds their target
Arrow Pharmaceuticals (ASX=AWP), launched some time back to market patent-expired generics, some OTCs and private script drugs through pharmacies and is set to merge with Sigma Pharmaceuticals (completion date Dec 5). Those who bought AWP when it first floated have more than tripled their money. Arrow is currently marketing drugs to pharmacies for over 20 pharmaceutical companies, with the incentive of a fixed low customer mark-up to attract through traffic. The latest development in this market sector is for pharmaceutical companies to release drugs to companies like Arrow about a year before patent expiry, so the drug can be marketed under licence before other generics arrive; thereby maintaining market share after the patent expires. Sigma owns Amcal and Guardian pharmacy retail brands and it purchased Herron Pharmaceuticals last year.
Naltrexone implant gets go ahead
Perth medical device developer Go Medical Industries has received a $2.06m federal government AusIndustry grant to develop a naltrexone implant system designed to treat drug addiction. Go Medical founder Dr George O’Neill, an addictive medicine specialist and big naltrexone advocate, spent 10 years researching and developing the product in Europe, Africa and Australia before starting the company.
The diversion of buprenorphine from drug addiction programs to the black market has been a problem for some while. Increasing use of takeaway doses has not only meant the sublingual tablets are sold for recreational use, but they can also be dissolved and injected for a more potent effect. However, if you miss a vein, buprenorphine can make a real mess of your groin or cubital fossa. These problems should fall away with the introduction of a sublingual tablet containing both burprenorphine and naloxone in a 4 to 1 ratio. Given sublingually, naloxone has poor bioavailability but when injected, this increases 15 fold. Attempts to dissolve and inject the new drug will create a rapid withdrawal crisis.?
Immune to exercise
New Scientist reports that genes may ultimately determine whether patients benefit from more exercise, or not. Even strenuous exercise has no impact on the fitness or risk of developing diabetes etc in some.? When 742 people from 213 families were put through a strict 20-week endurance training program (couch potatoes until then), there were huge variations in “trainability” between subjects. Although training improved maximum oxygen consumption by 17% on average, some gained over 40% and others showed no improvement. Similar patterns were seen with cardiac output, blood pressure and heart rate. Insulin sensitivity (as a risk marker for diabetes) improved in 58% following exercise, but 42% showed no improvement and a few got worse.