Fiona’s election

We smell an election. Alan Carpenter and Jim McGinty have launched works at the $1.76b Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch although no sod will be turned until next January. That’s 643 beds, technology coming out your ears, a comprehensive cancer centre, a glorious partnership with St John of God private hospital, and a whiz bang WA Institute for Medical Research ($25m from State coffers) – 135,000sqm of floor space all up and $2.3m spent to protect the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo for all you nature lovers. Mr Carpenter says he is spending $5b of our taxes rebuilding hospitals “the length and breadth of the State”. You can apply to have one in your front yard, apparently, and you might upstage the Fiona megalith opening in 2013 (fingers crossed).

Avita breathing space

Visiomed has absorbed failing WA biotech company Clinical Cell Culture (C3) to rebadge as Avita Medical Ltd (ASX: AVH). Growing sales of respiratory devices (namely Funhaler and Breath-a-Tec) have boosted group revenue 16%, with overseas markets yet to be fully exploited. But this is quite a comedown for C3, which appeared set for world domination with Prof Fiona Wood’s burns technology, but the lucrative US market remained closed and sales volumes never pushed the company into positive earnings. Avita has now placed C3’s product hope, CellSpray, on hold due to its high manufacturing costs.

Pharma behaviour

Following Medicines Australia’s revamp of their code last year and recent web publishing of payments to Oz doctors, America’s PhRMA is revising its voluntary code of conduct on how pharmas should interact with healthcare professionals. The changes, effective from next January, include a prohibition on distributing non-educational items to healthcare providers and their staff. Other measures include a ban on free meals, greater medical education independence, and transparency on potential conflicts of interest. Pharma companies are big business in the USA. Spending on government lobbying rose 32% last year to $168m , with more than 90% coming from three trade groups and 40 pharmaceutical companies (Amgen was top at $16.2m, followed by Pfizer at $13.8m). Across the pond, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry suspended Roche’s membership for six months for a code of conduct breach. Apparently Roche supplied Xenical to a private weight-loss clinic operator despite concerns that he may not have been legally qualified to purchase the product, and provided 55,000 pounds to open another clinic as a way to increase drug sales.

Happiness in slavery

University of Sydney psychologists have found that the Monday morning blues are as real as leprechauns and flying pigs, and that we are just as happy at the beginning of the week as we are at the end. With foresight and hindsight people dread Monday mornings the most and love Friday evenings more than any other time but on closer inspection of study participant’s daily moods, the researchers found very little variation in happiness levels over a week. The finding is linked to a growing body of research that says humans may overvalue choice. Looks like the daily grind is not so much of a grind after all!

Who says you’re fat?

With Australia now the fattest nation on earth (with four million obese Aussies), Victoria University’s Dr Erin Pearson reckons the diet message is less important than the person delivering it. In a study of 214 female volunteers, grouped by identity into ‘strong/independent’, ‘spiritual/caring’, and a control group, the two social groups were shown diet and exercise footage presented by like-minded women, whereas the control group was shown footage from health professionals. Exercise levels initially increased amongst all three groups, but after two weeks, the control group dropped back to regular exercise levels, whereas the social groups actually increased their exercise time.