Gov’t Must Increase Empowerment

first_imgThe President of the Liberian Business Association (LIBA), Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah has said that for Liberians to take charge of their country’s economy it is crucial that and the 25 percent budget expenditure allocated to Liberian-owned businesses by the government should be increased to 100 per cent.He argued that Liberians are building confidence in the banking sector and therefore it is necessary for the government to fully support Liberian businesses to let them take charge of the economy.Mr. Kemayah made the statement over the weekend at a one-day policy dialogue on validation consultation, organized by the Governance Commission on Scoping Study of Liberian Entrepreneurs’ Participation in the Liberian Economy, held at a local resort in Monrovia.“We still can do better and therefore it will be helpful for the government to increase the 25 per cent to 100 per cent,” he said.He therefore called on the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) to make public the list of Liberian businesses that have benefited from the implementation of the Small Businesses Act since its inception two years ago.Commenting on the unwillingness of Liberian businesses to take advantage of training opportunities, Kemayah called on the commission to allow LIBA to take the lead in arranging and conducting future training for its members.“When you allow us to take the lead, our members will have more confidence in the process,” he emphasized.For his part, executive director of the PPCC, James Dorbor Jallah, disclosed that over US$90 million has been committed to Liberian businesses by 82 Government of Liberia-funded agencies.The amount is part of the agencies’ procurement allotment in the 2015/16 fiscal budget.He added that some of the agencies have committed up to 100 percent of their procurement allotment, implying that their procurement budget is committed to tender competition among only Liberian companies.“The average national percentage is about 30 percent; so what that means is that nationally, though the law requires a minimum of 25 percent, we are doing five percent more than it is required,” Jallah pointed out.The PPCC Executive Director, however, lamented on the inability of Liberian businesses to deliver quality services on contracts awarded them.He said in spite of the provision by the Small Businesses Act, which requires that 25 percent of all government procurements be committed to Liberian businesses, the commission will not relax its rules to awarding contracts to institutions that lack the technical capacity to deliver on contracts.Jallah also frowned on Liberian companies for their unwillingness to take advantage of training opportunities offered them by the commission.“We remain open to the training of Liberian businesses that are in need of capacity building in procurement and related PPCC exercises,” he added.He pledged PPCC’s support to Liberian businesses to ensure that they have a place in the economy through the enforcement of the Small Businesses Empowerment Law, without compromise.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Cantor Calls For Repeal Of Medical Device Tax Bipartisan Senate Bill Seeks

first_imgIn a speech, the House majority leader criticized the health law but focused his attention on the overhaul’s taxes. Meanwhile, the Senate measure would prohibit companies that make brand-name drugs from paying generic manufacturers to keep their products off the market.The Hill: Cantor: Repeal ‘ObamaCare’ TaxesHouse Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) emphasized repealing the taxes in President Obama’s healthcare law during a speech outlining the House GOP’s priorities. Although Cantor criticized the entire law, he focused his specific calls for repeal on the law’s new taxes — specifically a 2 percent excise tax on medical device manufacturers (Baker, 2/5). Reuters: Senate To Mull Ban On ‘Pay For Delay’ Pharmaceutical DealsKey Democratic and Republican senators reintroduced legislation on Tuesday that would make it illegal for brand-name pharmaceutical companies to pay generic drug makers to keep their cheaper medicines off the market. Such deals, in which big drug companies resolve patent litigation with potentially infringing generic firms by reaching a settlement that delays a generic version of a drug in exchange for a payment, have angered U.S. and European antitrust enforcers for years (Bartz, 2/5).In other pharmaceutical industry news – The Wall Street Journal: FDA Warns Of New Batch Of Fake Cancer DrugThe Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it has warned doctors that another counterfeit batch of the cancer drug Avastin has reached medical practices in the U.S. The warning follows a string of alerts last year, when the agency told doctors that versions of Avastin sold by at least two drug-distribution networks were fakes, containing cornstarch, acetone and other chemicals and none of the genuine drug’s active ingredient (Weaver, 2/5). Cantor Calls For Repeal Of Medical Device Tax; Bipartisan Senate Bill Seeks To End Generic Drug Delays This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

Personalized cancer vaccines may fight tumors

first_imgCancer treatments that harness the body’s immune system to wipe out tumors have begun paying off for some patients for whom all other therapies have failed. Now, a small clinical study has found support for a newcomer on the cancer immunotherapy front. Injected with a vaccine designed to match specific mutations in their tumors, three patients with advanced melanoma had a strong immune response and in two their tumors shrunk or stabilized, at least temporarily. Although the study was mainly meant to test safety, the results suggest it holds promise for stopping tumors from growing.“There’s a lot of excitement about this approach,” says oncologist and cancer immunologist Craig Slingluff of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, who was not involved with the study.Vaccines for infectious diseases typically deliver into the body bits of protein or other material from a virus or bacterium that trigger the immune system to defend against the invading pathogen. With cancer, the similar idea is to vaccinate a patient with immune-stimulating molecules, known as antigens, found only on tumor cells, so that the person’s immune system ends up attacking the tumor. But cancer vaccines have a poor record of success. That’s because most of the tumor antigens tested also appear in small amounts on healthy cells, and the immune system has mechanisms that make it tolerate, or ignore, these familiar antigens. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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Some of these mutations do not appear in genes that drive cancer growth, but instead code for novel peptides—short proteins—that may act as antigens on the surface of tumor cells. Because these so-called neoantigens are completely foreign to the body, they could in theory make a cancer vaccine.Devising a neoantigen cancer vaccine requires sequencing a lot of tumor DNA, which wasn’t feasible or affordable until recently. But now that DNA sequencing costs have dropped and speeds increased, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have begun exploring neoantigen cancer vaccines for melanoma, a tumor in which the sun’s ultraviolet light that sparks cancer-causing mutations also creates hundreds of additional mutations that are likely to include many coding for neoantigens.Human immunologist Beatriz Carreno, trial leader Gerald Linette, and collaborators recently studied three melanoma patients who had surgery to remove their tumors, but who had cancer cells that had spread to their lymph nodes, making tumors likely to recur. The researchers sequenced the exome, or protein-coding DNA, of each patient’s original melanoma tumor and compared it with the exome of their other cells to identify dozens of mutations coding for newly created peptides that might act as neoantigens. (Not all peptides made by a cell get displayed on its surface.) They analyzed the possible neoantigens’ structures and did lab tests to predict which are actually made by the cell and get displayed on its surface, then homed in on those most likely to trigger an immune response. For each melanoma patient they chose seven neoantigens unique to that person’s tumor.After taking blood from each patient and harvesting from it immune sentinels called dendritic cells, the researchers then mixed each patient’s set of neoantigens with these white blood cells so that they would display the peptides to other immune cells. The team used the neoantigen-coated dendritic cells to make personalized neoantigen vaccines that were infused into the patients three times over about 4 months.Carreno and collaborators found that a key measure of vaccine response, the number of immune system T cells specific to the neoantigens in each patient, rose in the patients’ blood, along with an increase in the diversity of these T cells. These neoantigen-specific T cells could also kill cultured melanoma cells expressing the same neoantigens, the team reports online today in Science.In one patient, metastatic tumors in the woman’s lungs shrank, then regrew, but are now stable after 8 months; the second person’s tumor remnants have also been stable for 9 months. A third patient who had received an immunotherapy drug after surgery that put his cancer in remission remains cancer-free. However, the trial was designed primarily to confirm the safety of the vaccine and immune response, not to test its effectiveness, and because the patients received other treatments, it is not possible to say whether the vaccine helped: “I would be speculating if I said that the vaccine had any benefit to the patients,” Linette says.But the fact that the study found “a pretty high magnitude of immune response,” combined with recent reports that a different neoantigen vaccine can fight cancer in mice, suggests the idea is “promising,” Slingluff says.Such a vaccine, which should be less toxic than chemotherapy, might be used to prevent cancer from recurring after surgery. It might also be combined with other immunotherapy drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors that seem to work best for cancers such as lung and melanoma in which tumors have many mutations. “The high anticipation is whether the one-two punch with checkpoint inhibition would work,” says Roger Lo, a melanoma researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles.center_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Emaillast_img read more