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INDIAN (H)

Ten Greek ex-ministers allegedly involved in Novartis bribery probe

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Ten Greek ex-ministers allegedly involved in Novartis bribery probeAthens: Two former Greek prime ministers and eight former ministers have been implicated in an alleged corruption scandal involving Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, a judicial source said Monday.

Greek anti-corruption prosecutors have asked parliament to hand over any files relating to the alleged bribery in light of the suspected involvement of the former ministers, who were in office between 2006 and 2015 — before the current government came to power — the source said.

The former ministers were not named.

Magistrates also launched a corruption prosecution against a manager at Novartis’s Greek branch, who was banned from leaving the country, the source said.

In April last year, Greece’s parliament voted to open an investigation into alleged health scandals, with the ruling left-wing government saying past socialist and conservative administrations for decades allowed health contractors to overcharge hospitals for equipment, supplies and medicine in return for kickbacks.

Greece’s justice minister Stavros Kontonis said at the time that Novartis had likely bribed “thousands” of doctors and civil servants to promote its products and continued to sell “overpriced” drugs even after the country was hit by economic crisis in 2010 and huge cuts were imposed on state budgets, leaving many Greeks without access to affordable medicine.

Novartis issued a statement saying it was “aware of the media reports about our business practices” in Greece and that it was continuing to cooperate with the authorities.

Scores of people have been questioned in a probe ongoing since 2016, with anti-corruption prosecutors visiting Novartis’s premises near Athens in early 2017 to gather evidence.

The case gained attention following a suicide attempt by a Novartis manager on New Year’s Day 2017.

That attempt was thwarted by police, and a judicial source said the manager was one of those questioned over alleged corruption.

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant was investigated by US authorities in 2014, accused of paying bribes in order to boost sales of some of its medicines, and was later fined $390 million (314 million euros) by the US Justice Department.

In March 2017, Novartis also paid $25 million to settle claims involving its Chinese subsidiary.



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ASIAN (H)

PM: I hope Thaipusam will continue to be a ‘Negaraku symbol’ for peace, stability, harmony

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Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today he hoped that the celebration of Thaipusam would continue to be a “Negaraku symbol of spirit and inspiration” to the people to live in peace, harmony and stability.

In his Thaipusam message, the prime minister said Malaysia was lucky to be blessed with a diversity of races, religions and cultures, making the people in the country unique, with the freedom to practice their own beliefs in peace and harmony. “Together, let us embrace the spirit of Thaipusam with family, friends and those who celebrate it,” he posted on his blog. Najib said he hoped that the Hindu community would have a meaningful Thaipusam this year. “Happy Thaipusam,” he said.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/pm-hope-thaipusam-continue-apos-151545278.html

 

Category: Malaysia


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MIDDLE EASTERN (H)

Macron faces emboldened nationalists on tricky Corsica visit

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INDIAN (H)

Hyderabad: Crackdown brings six drug firms under lens

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Hyderabad: Crackdown brings six drug firms under lensHYDERABAD: Telangana Drug Control Administration (DCA)’s crackdown on errant companies has resulted in various courts in the state convicting six drug companies and their managements based on five cases filed by the drug controller in January.

Pangea Pharma, Brand Win Enterprises and Herbal Plus of Hyderabad, Andhra Chemicals of Vijayawada, Nucleus Biosciences of Ahmedabad as well as Scott Edil Pharmacia of Himachal Pradesh were imposed fines and/or awarded imprisonment for selling magic remedies, drugs not of standard quality and for violating the drug price control.

In one case, two city-based firms selling unlicenced herbal oil for removal of unwanted body hair were convicted by the Nampally court and fined Rs 40,000 each with one month’s imprisonment in case of default.

Telangana DCA joint director T Kailasam said in the case of hair removal oil, a consumer lodged a complaint following which DCA’s drug inspector filed a complaint against Herbal Plus of Motinagar, an individual K Shalini of AS Rao Nagar and Brand Win Enterprises of Madhuranagar. “The third ACMM court convicted the trio for selling a product with no licence number,” Kailasam said.

A junior first class magistrate (JFCM) court at Narayanpet convicted Nucleus Biosciences’ managing director Vishal Parmar and slapped a fine of Rs 8,000, and six months imprisonment in case of default, under the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, for selling magic remedy capsules.

In a case filed by the Nalgonda drug inspector, the second additional JFCM court at Eluru slapped a fine of Rs 60,000 each and three months imprisonment on three members of Andhra Chemicals management for selling ‘Synomol’, a paracetamol syrup that failed to meet standards.

The case filed by the Mahbubnagar drug inspector saw the Narayanpet JFCM court convict Pangea Pharma’s managing director Venkata Narasa Raju for selling drugs not of standard quality with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of Rs 10,000. “If the government lab analysis finds adrug has failed even in one parameter, a prosecution is launched,” Kailasam explained.

In a case filed by the Nizamabad drug inspector, the court convicted Scott Edil Pharmacia and its promoters with a Rs 45,000 fine or imprisonment of six months in case of default, for violation of drug price control for Citra tablets.



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ASIAN (H)

Malaysians, get set for the ‘super blue blood moon’ tomorrow

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Malaysians can catch a glimpse of the ‘super blue blood moon’ tomorrow, beginning 6.51pm to just after midnight at about 12.08am.

The phenomenon would make it appearance for about five hours and 17 minutes and could be viewed over the skies of Eastern Europe, East Africa, Asia (including Malaysia), Australia and North America.

The eclipse will happen as the moon rises in the eastern horizon (except in Sabah and Sarawakeclipse begins after the moon rises) and the maximum full eclipse phase will be at 9:29 pm.

The National Space Agency said the full moon eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and moon are aligned.

“The moon will gradually turn from the white pearl colour we see every day to reddish and then to its original colour during the five-hour period.

“The lunar eclipse tomorrow differs from other eclipses and full moons depending on several factors including the position of the earth’s atmosphere and the position of the moon along its orbit.

“During the eclipse, the moon actually has just crossed the perigee position on January 30 with a distance of 358,993 kilometers from earth and thus making this an “Eclipse Supermoon’ (the definition of ‘Supermoon’ is when the moon’s distance is less than 360,000 kilometers from earth),” said the agency.

The National Space Agency says the full moon eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and moon are aligned. Pic source: Nasa.gov

No specific equipment is needed to enjoy this phenomenon.

The main thing is the weather conditions in each place as it happens.

However, the use of telescopes and binoculars will help to see more clearly.

Meanwhile, the Malaysia Langkawi National Observatory, will be hold activities for the public to witness the phenomenon.

Mobile telescopes will be available to visitors for free.

Among locations that can be visited for observation activities are the National Planetarium, Kuala Lumpur, Teluk Kemang Observatory, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor Observatory, Sungai Lang Parit Baru, Sungai Ayer Tawar, Ceral Al-Khawarizmi Hall, Tanjung Bidara, Melaka, Tok Jembal Beach, Terengganu (organised by Kusza Observatory), Tun Mustapha Tower, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Sabah Stargazers Observatory) and Observatory of Kota Bharu, Kampung Kubang Rawa, Salor, Kelantan.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/malaysians-set-apos-super-blue-040326897.html

 

Category: Malaysia


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INDIAN (H)

UK experts urge smokers to switch to e-cigarettes for big health gains

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UK experts urge smokers to switch to e-cigarettes for big health gains

By Kate Kelland

LONDON: Vaping, or using e-cigarettes, poses only a fraction of the health risk of tobacco smoking and should be encouraged among smokers to reap substantial health benefits, British public health experts said on Tuesday.

In a review of evidence on e-cigarettes commissioned by the government-backed authority Public Health England, experts said e-cigarettes could already be helping some 20,000 UK smokers a year to quit tobacco – and possibly many more.

The report said there was “much public misunderstanding” about nicotine, with fewer than 10 percent of adults understanding that the vast majority of the harms from smoking are not caused by nicotine.

It said the evidence does not support concerns that e-cigarettes are a gateway into tobacco smoking among young people.

“Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95 percent less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders,” said John Newton, a professor and director for health improvement at PHE.

“It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.”

The PHE report comes a few weeks after a U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report on e-cigarettes. Summarising data from hundreds of scientific studies, that report also said e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than regular tobacco cigarettes.

PHE called on smokers and health authorities to act now on the evidence reviewed in these latest reports.

Any smoker who has struggled to quit should try switching to an e-cigarette and get professional help, it said, adding: “The greatest quit success is among those who combine using an e-cigarette with support from a local stop smoking service.”

It also called on Britain’s National Health Service to ensure e-cigarettes are available in hospital shops along with other nicotine replacement products such as gum and lozenges.

The UK campaign group Action on Smoking and Health welcomed the report, saying it was part of a growing scientific consensus that e-cigarettes are much less harmful than tobacco.

“We hope this reports will…encourage the 40 percent of smokers who’ve failed to quit but never tried vaping to go ahead and switch,” it said in a statement.

(Additional reporting by Martinne Geller Editing by Hugh Lawson)



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ASIAN (H)

Malaysia’s Najib says waiting for ‘inspiration’ to call polls

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Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak on Tuesday said he was waiting for inspiration to decide the right time to call a general election, with less than six months remaining until the end of his five-year term.

Najib faces an unprecedented challenge in this year’s election from his former mentor and ex-premier, Mahathir Mohamad, who turned on the prime minister over his handling of a multi billion dollar scandal involving a state fund.

“I’m waiting for some sort of spark, or what the Malays call ‘ilham’,” Najib told a news conference, using the Malay word for inspiration.

Najib has until June 24 to call for elections, failing which parliament dissolves automatically. Polls must be held within 60 days from the date of dissolution.

“Whether we wait until June or make it earlier, we’ll see how things develop,” the prime minister said.

After news broke in 2015 of hundreds of millions of dollars allegedly misappropriated from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Najib moved quickly to quell dissent, sacking critics from his cabinet and ruling party and clamping down on a damaging internal probe.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

The scandal has since pit him against Mahathir, who joined hands with old rivals in the opposition to lead efforts to unseat Najib and his undefeated United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) coalition.

But Najib is still widely expected to win, thanks to a divided opposition, an upbeat economy and the redrawing of electoral boundaries that critics say favours the government, according to a survey published in December by independent polling firm Merdeka Centre.

Mahathir, 92, met senior EU ambassadors last week and called for foreign intervention in the forthcoming elections, a move the government criticised.

“They (the opposition) have run out of opportunities in the country, so they have to bring in foreign powers,” Najib said, regarding the meeting.

“They want to create controversy, claiming that our system is not fair,” he said.

Opposition parties have long accused UMNO, which has ruled Malaysia since independence, of election-rigging and fraud. UMNO has consistently denied the accusations.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/malaysia-najib-says-waiting-inspiration-call-polls-114943098.html

 

Category: Malaysia


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