Wednesday October 24, 2018

Increasing popularity of egg freezing among Indians, social stigma continues

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New Delhi: Women were filled with new hope when former Miss World Diana Hayden, 42, brought her first child into the world as a result of freezing her human egg eight years ago. However, societal unacceptance attached to it continues to prove a hindrance to this new age process.

While young Indians feel that freezing of human egg is a smart move for career-oriented women, social stigma continues to be attached to the new-age fertilization process, say medical experts.

Egg freezing is still not very popular in India, said Shobha Gupta, medical director and IVF Specialist at Mother’s Lap IVF Centre.

“People in India still open their eyes wide if they hear such things, especially in joint and conservative families. On the other hand, IVF has been accepted widely in India, but egg freezing is yet to gain approval or social acceptability in India,” Gupta told reporters.

Another expert, Anubha Singh, gynecologist and IVF Expert at Shantah IVF Center, said that “egg freezing is not a normal procedure like IVF or surrogacy, but if you are an individual and you don’t need any family member’s approval, you can definitely go for this”.

The procedure, however, has caught the people’s attention here in the past two to three years.

Singh said it was in 2014 when technology conglomerates Apple and Facebook announced that they will pay for the egg freezing process of their women employees.

“They took the decision to attract more female employees and maintain their retention rates so that they may have prolonged careers,” said Singh.

Internationally, egg freezing is a route that Hollywood celebrities like Sofia Vergara and Kim Kardashian have taken. And in India, Diana has set an example.

Is the method more popular among celebrities than commoners?

“Egg freezing is a costly affair and is mostly taken up by high-profile people,” Gupta said.

The costs of preserving eggs is very high.

In India, freezing embryos costs Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000 per month, and the frozen embryo transfer cycle costs Rs.100,000 to Rs.200,000 per cycle. Embryo transfer is the main part of the IVF process – and it usually takes 10 to 15 days to be injected in a woman’s womb.

Thus, egg freezing is mostly popular among Page 3 celebrities or among people with higher spending powers, Gupta added.

“Many couples who work for IT firms, BPOs and in management backgrounds are busy with their careers and delay the baby-making process, thereby, giving them a reason to opt for freezing their sperms or eggs. Besides a prosperous career, the uncertainty of marriage and fear of infertility are two other major factors contributing to this trend (of increasing queries on egg-freezing),” she said.

But before taking a decision, be aware that egg freezing isn’t a sure shot guarantee of pregnancy.

“First of all, the success rate of egg freezing is not 100 percent as chances of viable pregnancies are only 30 to 35 percent. You just can’t freeze your eggs once, sit back and relax. Even if you freeze your eggs at an early age, you have to get your IVF cycle done before you turn 45-years-old.

“So, limitations are always there,” Aanchal Aggarwal, IVF specialist at the BL Kapur Memorial Hospital, told reporters.

In Britain, 18,000 eggs were frozen till 2012. Of these, only 580 embryos were formed, eventually generating only 20 live births, according to an earlier report.

“So, you can clearly notice that the difference between the ratio of eggs which is 18,000 and live births which is only 20,” said Singh, adding: “It is best if you freeze embryos (combination of eggs and sperm) rather than eggs.”

“The cost of freezing embryos is the same as the cost of freezing eggs, but freezing embryos is more result-oriented in comparison,” Singh concluded.(Nivedita, IANS) (Image source: vogue.com)

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Low Quality Drugs, Medicine Costs More Than Just Money

Even in high-income countries, purchasing cheaper medicines from illegitimate sources online could result in obtaining substandard or falsified medicines.

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Medicines
A seized counterfeit hydrocodone tablets in the investigation of a rash of fentanyl overdoses in northern California is shown in this Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). VOA

About one in eight essential medicines in low- and middle-income countries may be fake or contain dangerous mixes of ingredients that put patients’ lives at risk, a research review suggests.

Researchers examined data from more 350 previous studies that tested more 400,000 drug samples in low- and middle-income countries. Overall, roughly 14 percent of medicines were counterfeit, expired or otherwise low quality and unlikely to be as safe or effective as patients might expect.

“Low-quality medicines can have no or little active pharmaceutical ingredient [and] can prolong illness, lead to treatment failure and contribute to drug resistance,” said lead study author Sachiko Ozawa of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Or it may have a too much active ingredient and cause a drug overdose,” Ozawa said by email. “If it is contaminated or has other active ingredients, then the medication could cause poisoning, adverse drug interactions or avertable deaths.”

Much of the research to date on counterfeit or otherwise unsafe medicines has focused on Africa, and about half of the studies in the current analysis were done there.

 

medicines
One in five medications tested in Africa were fake. Pixabay

 

Almost one in five medications tested in Africa were fake or otherwise potentially unsafe, researchers report in JAMA Network Open.

 

Another third of the studies were done in Asia, where about 14 percent of medicines tested were found to be counterfeit or otherwise unsafe.

Antibiotics and antimalarials were the most tested drugs in the analysis. Overall, about 19 percent of antimalarials and 12 percent of antibiotics were falsified or otherwise unsafe.

While fake or improperly made medicines undoubtedly harm patients, the current analysis couldn’t tell how many people suffered serious side effects or died as a result of falsified drugs.

Researchers did try to assess the economic impact of counterfeit or improperly made medicines and found the annual cost might run anywhere from $10 billion to $200 billion.

While the study didn’t examine high-income countries, drug quality concerns are by no means limited to less affluent nations, Ozawa said.

Medicines
Different vaccines. Pixabay

“Even in high-income countries, purchasing cheaper medicines from illegitimate sources online could result in obtaining substandard or falsified medicines,” Ozawa said. “Verify the source before you buy medications, and make policymakers aware of the problem so they can work to improve the global supply chain of medicines.”

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how counterfeit or poorly made medicines directly harm patients, however. And the economic impact was difficult to assess from smaller studies that often didn’t include a detailed methodology for calculating the financial toll.

Also Read: Eating in 10-hour Window May Boost Health

The report “provides important validation of what is largely already known,” Tim Mackey of the Global Health Policy Institute in La Jolla, California, writes in an accompanying editorial.

“It is important to note that although the study is comprehensive, its narrow scope means it only provides a snapshot of the entire problem, as it is limited to studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries and to those
medicines classified as essential by the World Health Organization.” (VOA)