Published: Wednesday 31 December 1997

inexpensive cures: Drugs to combat the HIV virus may become cheaper in Uganda, Cote d'Ivoire, Chile and Vietnam. Pharmaceutical companies, Glaxo Wellcome and Hoffmann-La Roche have decided to cut rates and supply drugs to these countries. The two-year pilot initiative has been organised by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS. Virco, a Belgian diag-nostics company, will train local tech-nicians to screen patients to work out as to which drugs to use. "We want to demonstrate that it is workable and sustainable," says Joseph Saba, the initiative's coordinator. The extent of the discounts is still being discussed.

new vaccine: A vaccine for Hepatitis-B infection has been launched by the Hyderabad-based Shantha Biote-ch-nics Private Ltd. Until recently, only imported and expensive vaccines such as Engerix-B, marketed by Smith- --- Kline Bee-cham were available in India.According to company sources, clinical tests at the KEM Hospital in Mumbai and Nizam's Medical Institute in Hyderabad have shown that the vaccine is as effective as the imported ones. The Hepatitis-B virus is more infectious than the HIV virus and is more widespread than cancer.

herbal pact: Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd has launched eight herbal formulations in the Indian market as part of its collaboration with Murdoch Madaus Schwabe of the US, a global major in physio-medi-calism. Among the eight products launched are Rekallex (a combination of brahmi and ginseng), fortefem (a formulation to assist women in menopausal transition), Resistol (a preventive against viral and bacterial attacks) and Tensnil (a tension relaxant).

relief to farmers: A herbicide that eliminates the drea-ded phalaris minor in the wheat crop has been made available to the farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. India is the fourth country in the world where the new herbicide named "Leader" has been introduced by its manufacturer Monsanto. Leader, rated as extremely effective for the control of resistant phalaris minor and other grasses and annual broad-leaved weeds in wheat, excellent crop safety to wheat, 25 to 45 days after sowing.

speedy access: Sweden-based telecom company, Ericsson has said that it may soon provide simultaneous telephone service and Internet access over the same regular telephone line. The new technology, set for commercial production in the first quarter of 1998, will nearly quadruple the average speed for home Internet access, helping to overcome one of the Internet's biggest annoyances. The new technology, called Home Internet Solution, is the latest entrant in what has become a market crammed with new ways of speeding up Internet access and bringing it to a wider audience.

reducing pollution: A relatively inexpensive approach to cutting pollutants in car fumes involves mixing fuel with a hydrogen-rich gas. Even small amounts of the gas can significantly cut pollutants. Researchers at the Massachu-setts Institute of Tech-nology are developing a device that exploits this principle without requring any significant technical advances to the engine design. The device is a plasmatron, an electrical gas heater commonly used to produce hydrogen-rich gas for industrial applications.

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