Published: Wednesday 30 June 1999

vaccine against hepatitis a: Smith-kline Beecham Pharmaceuticals have developed a new vaccine to prevent Hepatitis A. Harvix is a convenient two-dose vaccine for active immunisation against the disease. The vaccine is available in two variants, Harvix 720 Junior (for those between 12 months and 18 years) and 1440 Adult (for those over 18 years). Hepatitis A is widespread all over the third world. It is transmitted by indirect contamination of food, water and cooking utensils, among other things. In India, over 30 per cent of hepatitis cases are caused by Hepatitis A virus.

new vaccine: Cadila Healthcare, a subsidiary of the Zydus group, has forged an alliance with the Swiss Serum & Vaccine (SSVI) for the, launch of a range of vaccines in India. Cadila Health Care president Ganesh Nayak said three new vaccines hepatitis A, anti-rabies and one for MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) would be covered under the SSVI alliance. The tie up also includes a buy-back arrangement for the anti-rabies vaccine. Nayak said the hepatitis A and anti-rabies vaccines were scheduled for launch by September, while the MMR vaccine was expected to be ready by August this year.

oral contraceptive: Under the Contraceptive Social Marketing Programme of the Indian government, Hindustan Latex Ltd announced the launch of its first hormone-based oral contraceptive pill for women. Announcing the launch of the pill named Arpan , general manager, marketing, M Ayyappan said till now the company had sold a non-steroidal oral contraceptive pill Saheli which was to be taken on a weekly basis. Ayyappan said Arpan would be priced at Rs 5 for 21 tablets. He said the pill had negligible side-effects.

anti-smoking gum: The Japan unit of the US-based company Pharmacia & Upjohn saw a 50 per cent increase in sales of its anti-smoking gum Nicorette in 1998. "It is a small product, but there is a positive trend," said Arne Nordstorm, the company's vice-president. He said Nicorette's sales growth was backed by a growing anti-smoking movement in Japan. One big challenge facing Nicorette in Japan is that it is still a prescription drug, currently limited to those with smoking-related diseases. Unlike Japan, Nicorette is sold over the counter in the US and other countries.

gas in egypt: B G Egypt, the UK-based gas exploration and distribution company has announced a new gas discovery in the eastern Mediterranean off the north Egyptian coast. B G Egypt and its partner, Edison International, registered a gas supply of 45 million standard cubic feet of gas per day at its West Delta Deep Marine drilling operation. The discovery is the tenth successful find in the area in the last two years, raising expectations of the 37,000 billion cubic feet of gas now accessible off the Nile delta.

natural gas discovered: An important natural gas discovery has been made in Canada's Northwest Territories by a Canadian-based subsidiary of Chevron. Test data suggest that the well could contain about 400 billion to 600 billion cubic feet of natural gas, which would make the well one of Canada's largest. Chevron said they expected it to produce an estimated 70 million to 100 million cubic feet of gas per day, about 10 times the average rate of production for Canadian wells. The company has 43 per cent interest in the well, with a number of small groups owning minority stakes.

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