Tag Archives: pharmaceuticals

Ireland daily news BLOG by Donie

Friday 15th May 2015

Ireland’s export values for March 2015 hit their highest level since 2002

    

Export-led sectors (such as technology, software, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and green technology) continue to show growth

The value of exports hit their highest levels since 2002 in March, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

A rebound in medical and pharmaceutical exports has helped largely drive the positive figures, along with the weaker euro.

Preliminary data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that Ireland’s crucial exports were valued at €9.1bn in March. The last time it broke through the €9bn barrier was in May 2002.

Analysts also hailed the fact that exports have surged since the start of the year, thanks in part to improved competitiveness gains from the weaker euro.

Davy Stockbrokers said good exports are up 17.4% in the first three months of this year compared with 2014, thanks to a rebound in pharmaceuticals, which are up 21% on the year.

“Nonetheless, excluding this sector, Irish goods exports are up 9.1% year-to-date,” said Davy economist Conall Mac Coille.

“This suggests that Irish export performance is benefitting from stronger demand and from the competitiveness gains, vis-à-vis the UK, from the weak euro.”

The CSO data shows that while exports decreased 2% in March and imports rose 4%, the trade surplus narrowed by 10% to €3.43bn.

The value of exports for March was €9. 1bn representing an increase of €1.6bn, or 21%, when compared with March of last year.

The last time the value of exports was above €9bn was in May 2002 when it reached €9.1bn.

The CSO said the main driver behind the increase was a 58% surge in exports of medical and pharmaceutical products.

“The underlying narrative is one of broad based growth in exports, propelled by favourable currency moves and the improved economic performance of a number of Ireland’s key trading partners,” said Philip O’Sullivan, economist with specialist bank Investec.

“Elsewhere, the upturn in investment and personal consumption here has led to an increased appetite for imports. We expect to see more of the same in the months

€10m Irish Government funding announced for start-ups

    

The Jobs Minister said a €10 million initiative to support more start-up businesses will be led by people in local and regional areas.

The initiative comprises of two funds, with the closing date in mid July.

A €5 million fund will be open to groups of Local Enterprise Offices, and another €5 million Community Enterprise Initiatives fund will be open to groups and organisations in every county who come together with ideas for projects to create employment.

Minister Richard Bruton said this new initiative will be driven from the bottom-up.

“They are aimed at the local enterprise offices, which are now embedded in the local authorities … there are many ways in which groups could collaborate within the regions to develop initiatives,” he said.

“This is about bottom-up growth – you can’t expect someone in government buildings at Merrion Street or Kildare Street to know the environment in Kerry, and get the best ideas and people to drive them forward.”

NTMA sells €750m of seven-year bonds

   

In February of this year, the NTMA raised €500m through the auction of a 15-year bond.

The National Treasury Management Agency has sold €750 million of seven year government bonds at a yield of 0.81%.

The total bids received amounted to €1.99bn, which was 2.7 times the amount on offer. The NTMA has raised €10.25bn in the bond markets so far this year.

In February, the NTMA raised €500m through the auction of a 15-year bond.

Some €4bn was raised by the NTMA the previous week with the issuing of the first 30-year bond. The NTMA is looking to raise €12bn-€15bn in long-term bonds this year.

Meanwhile, there was much movement on the currency front yesterday, with sterling regaining its losses in the week heading into the British general election, while the US currency has slid to its lowest levels in almost four months a day after stagnant retail sales became the latest data to undermine prospects for Federal Reserve interest-rate increase.

The greenback climbed nine straight months through March on speculation the first hike in almost a decade was looming.

The dollar’s decline brought it to the lowest level in almost three months against the Euro.

And yet across the Atlantic, not even a reduction in the Bank of England’s quarterly growth forecasts was enough to derail sterling’s rebound.

People don’t realise severe obesity is as dangerous as smoking

  •  The new study also said that 20% of people who describe themselves as healthy are in fact overweight.

 

An expert group that looks into how obesity impacts on health has said that “widespread misconceptions” about its danger persist.

The European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), has released a new study entitled ‘Obesity: an underestimated threat’.

In it the group shows that obesity can reduce life expectancy at a comparable level to smoking tobacco.

What are the main points of the report?

Speaking about the report, Chair of the Association for the Study of Obesity on the Island of Ireland (ASOI), Dr Grace O’Malley, highlights seven key findings within the report.

These include the fact that less than 50% of the population realise that it is a disease; that many people are unaware of the link between obesity and serious illness; that over 60% do not think obesity surgery should be paid for by the national health system; and that over 80% of individuals underestimate the importance of an overall approach to maintaining a healthy weight.

It also mentions that more than half of people asked think that obesity is less dangerous than smoking. On this Dr O’Malley, said:

Studies have shown that moderate and severe obesity (BMI 30-35 kg/m2 and >40 kg/m2 respectively) can reduce life expectancy by between 5 and 20 years which is comparable to the impact of tobacco smoking (10 years). Despite this, less than 50% recognised obesity as being as dangerous as smoking.

Interestingly, it was also found that many people who consider themselves healthy are in fact overweight.

Dr O’Malley, said, “in this study 20% of those describing themselves as a healthy weight were technically overweight and 30% of those who described themselves as overweight were technically obese.”

One positive take away from the study was that most participants thought that diet and exercise were almost always the best way to treat obesity. Dr O’Malley does make the point however, that “in certain cases – particularly for people with severe obesity – additional treatments are needed.”

A growing problem in today’s society

Recent statistics have shown that obesity is a ‘growing threat’ – with a 2014 model estimating that 89% of of Irish men could be overweight by 2030, with 48% of these being obese.

The study released today carried out by the group looked at 14,000 people in seven European countries and aimed to build a better understanding of how the public perceives obesity.

Christopher an Irish student just got an asteroid named after him

  

This Irish student above just got an asteroid named after him

Of all the things that could happen in life, getting an asteroid named after you has to be one of the coolest.

Lucky sixth-year student Christopher Carragher from Our Lady’s Secondary School in Castleblaney can say just that, after winning a major $1,500 prize in the US.

The Co Monaghan student had an asteroid named after him after he came second in the world award in the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics category at ISEF 2015 which was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this week.

Carragher got to Pennsylvania after winning the SciFest 2014 national final last November. His project was about aiding people with memory loss.

Around 1,700 students from over 75 countries compete at Intel ISEF for a prize fund totaling $4million.

After becoming concerned about the signs of short-term memory loss in a family member, he decided to design an automated system called Memory Buddy.

Memory Buddy

Memory Buddy uses Google Calendar to alert the person about appointments and medication via flashing lights, sound and also via the TV.

It also includes a remotely controlled medicine drawer to give the appropriate medicine at a specific time – there’s even a feedback facility to notify a carer when medicine has or has not been taken.

An organiser for care rotas and appointments also comes with Memory Buddy.

Carragher said the whole experience has been “amazing”

I met students from all over the world, and heard speeches from famous scientists like Nobel laureates Sir Harold W Kroto and Martin Chalfie. It’s been great to see all the projects that other students from around the world have been working on and it has been brilliant to spend a week together sharing our ideas.

Sheila Porter of CEO of SciFest said that Christopher Carragher’s project “demonstrates that great science is characterised not by rote-learning and memorisation but by creativity and investigation”.

Christopher was representing Ireland at ISEF and come second in the world in his category is an impressive achievement not only for him, his teacher and school but for Ireland too, and it is testament to the very high quality of science education in Ireland. To continue producing the highest calibre of science students in Ireland, we need to celebrate their achievements more, to promote inquiry based learning and encourage students to take their learning beyond the classroom.

Music is being used to help sick children, who sometimes can’t speak, to express themselves

Huge ice shelf in Antarctica to collapse by year 2020

   

The last remaining section of Antarctica’s Larsen B ice shelf, which partially collapsed in 2002, is quickly weakening and likely to disintegrate completely by 2020, said a new study out today.

Ice shelves are permanent floating sheets of ice that connect to a landmass, such as Antarctica, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

When it goes, the ice shelf will shatter into hundreds of icebergs. Since it’s already floating ice, the collapse of the ice shelf will not directly contribute to global sea-level rise.

However, ice shelves are the gatekeepers for glaciers flowing from Antarctica toward the ocean, according to NASA. Without them, glacial ice enters the ocean faster and accelerates the pace of global sea level rise.

The remaining section of the Larsen B ice shelf is roughly the size of 27 Manhattan islands.

“These are warning signs that the remnant is disintegrating,” said study lead author Ala Khazendar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement.

“Although it’s fascinating scientifically to have a front-row seat to watch the ice shelf becoming unstable and breaking up, it’s bad news for our planet,” he said. “This ice shelf has existed for at least 10,000 years, and soon it will be gone.”

The Larsen B Ice Shelf is on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula, the part that looks like an arm reaching out toward South America. The peninsula has warmed 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950, making it one of the fastest-warming places on Earth.

Scientists think that the recent ice shelf collapses in both the Arctic and Antarctica are related to climate change.

Ice shelves are different from ice sheets. An ice sheet, which covers more than 97% of Antarctica, has built up over thousands of years as snow falls but never melts. As ice piles up, it slides slowly toward the continent’s edge to form ice shelves attached to the ice sheet, but are floating in the ocean.

“This is certainly a warning,” said Khazendar.

The study appeared in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, and was written by researchers from NASA and the University of California at Irvine.

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News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday 26th October 2013

Labour party ratings down as it fails to get a Budget bounce

  

Labour’s rating went down by one point, leaving the party at its lowest in a Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post.

THE Labour Party failed to get a bounce out of the Budget, but Fine Gael’s support did go up slightly, the latest opinion poll shows.

The coalition parties have largely stabilised with the opposition failing to make any gains.

Despite being perceived as the winner  from the Budget, Labour’s rating went down by one point, leaving the party at its lowest in a Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post.

Fine Gael’s support went up by two points to 29pc, with Labour down one point to nine per cent.

Fianna Fail stayed still at 23pc, Sinn Fein stand on 17pc and Independents are on 22pc, down one point.

The poll was taken amongst 1,000 people between Monday and Wednesday of this week, just days after the Budget.

On the question of the fairness of the Budget, 39pc felt it was fair, 59pc felt it was unfair and two per cent were undecided.

Extra baggage and lower charges herald Ryanair’s customer-friendly upgrade

 

Low-cost airline Ryanair aims to improve image by cutting check-in charges and in-flight selling

Ryanair, the low-cost airline, has announced a raft of improvements aimed at enhancing its reputation following criticism over additional charges and strict baggage rules.

Passengers will be allowed on board with a second “small” carry-on bag, such as a “small ladies handbag or [a] small airport shopping  bag”, and the airline’s boarding pass re-issue fee is to be cut from £70 to £15.

Other changes include a drop in the charge for checking luggage at the airport, from £60 to £30 per bag, and the introduction of a 24-hour “grace” period during which passengers will be able to correct minor errors, such as spelling mistakes, free  of charge. Currently such changes cost £110 per person.

On all flights that operate before 8am, or after 9pm, public announcements will be restricted to essential safety messages and cabin lights dimmed “so that any customers who wish to snooze, can comfortably do so.”

The changes will be implemented over the coming months. From November 1, the “quiet flights” and the post booking “grace period” will come into effect, from December 1 boarding card re-issue fees will be reduced, and a second carry-on bag permitted, and from January 5 the airport bag fees will be cut.

“These are the first in a series of customer service improvements which Ryanair is actively working on to make our low fare services easier to access and even more enjoyable for our millions of customers,” said Caroline Green, Ryanair’s director of customer services.

The changes come after Michael O’Leary, the airline’s chief executive, told shareholders it should scrap its “macho” image and eliminate things that “unnecessarily p*** people off”.

This week he took control of the airline’s Twitter account to answer questions from customers. Users gave him credit for supplying candid answers, but many were disappointed by his failure to address a number of issues. He was also accused of sexism after he praised one woman ’s profile picture with the comment: “Nice pic. Phwoaaarr!”

Last week the airline placed a “suggestion form” on its website, encouraging fliers to tell it what changes they want to see.

It has also recently made its app free to download , and announced plans to redesign its website.

Ryanair is regularly criticised for being slow to respond to customer complaints and for forcing passengers to opt-out of various offers – for extras such as car hire and travel insurance  – when booking a flight. A study by Telegraph Travel in July found that around 20 clicks of a mouse are required to get to the payment screen when booking with Ryanair – more than any other major carrier.

It has also been denounced for charging passengers high fees for hold luggage and in-flight food and drink, and huge amounts if they forget to print their own boarding pass or if their hand luggage is overweight.

Traditionally, Mr O’Leary has been notoriously dismissive of customers who complain about the airline. Last year he described a British woman who was charged €300 (£236) after she forgot to print out five boarding passes on a flight from Alicante to Bristol as an “idiot”.

His other notable quotes include: “People say the customer is always right, but you know what – they’re not. Sometimes they are wrong and they need to be told so” and “You’re not getting a refund  so **** off. We don’t want to hear your sob stories. What part of ‘no refund’ don’t you understand?”

Euro-stat survey claims Just 4% of Ireland has buildings on it

“even after the boom”

   

Ireland is one of the most undeveloped countries in the EU despite a decade-long building boom.

A new survey from Eurostat says just 4pc of the country is covered in “artificial structures”, and we have the highest proportion of grasslands of any country in Europe.

Despite more than 90,000 homes being built per year at the height of the boom and construction of a motorway network and town bypasses, the survey says that Ireland has fewer buildings and roads than our neighbours.

Just 4pc of our land is covered by “artificial areas,” compared with a 5pc EU average.

This compares with one-third of Malta, 13% of Belgium and 12% of the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The Land Use/Cover Area framesurvey  (LucasO) was carried out in 2012 and involved 750 surveyors taking measurements at 270,000 points across 27 countries.

It found:

* Just 13pc of Ireland is covered with forest. This compares with more than half of Sweden (76pc), Finland (72pc), Estonia (61pc) and Slovenia (60pc).

* Just 5pc is given over to cropland, compared with an EU average of 25pc.

* More than two-thirds of the country is covered with natural or agricultural grasslands, compared with an average of 20pc – the highest rate in the EU.

* Shrub land and bare land, either dominated by shrubs or low, woody plants or with no dominant vegetation, accounts for a further 4pc.

* Wetlands account for 7pc of our area, compared with 5pc among our neighbours.

Professor Rob Kitchin from the Department of Geography in NUI Maynoothsaid the data was somewhat limited because it could not be compared with the pre-boom years.

“The data doesn’t tell us an awful lot,” he said.

SPRAWL: “Maybe we’ve taken up more land, but not necessarily with high-density housing. Dublin grew with Cork and Limerick, but every town in the country grew as well.

“We also had a road-building programme, but we were a low population density country to start  with. The sprawl around our cities is about 12 houses per hectare, with two people per house – ten or 20 years ago it would have been four people per house. We have more houses, which take up more space, but there are still a lot of green spaces.”

Artificial structures include houses, offices and greenhouses, as well as yards, car parks, cemeteries and roads and rail networks.

Research centre to focus on medical and industrial materials

The Amber centre will focus on production of discoveries that can translate into products, services and treatments in areas such as computer chip design, medical implants and pharmaceuticals. Photograph: Tim Ockenden/PA Photo 

Collaborative hub expected to help improve global reputation for nano-science research

The Amber centre will focus on production of discoveries that can translate into products, services and treatments in areas such as computer chip design, medical implants and pharmaceuticals.

Advanced new materials for use in computing and in bio-engineering are to be researched at a €58 million centre run as a collaboration between academic researchers and industry.Its 99 researchers will broaden Ireland’s expertise in an important research area that has the potential to spin-out jobs and companies.

Trinity College Dublin and its Crann nano technology research centre will host the Amber (Advanced Materials and Bio Engineering Research) Centre, which will work in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University College Cork.

The funding is split between public and private, with €35 million coming from funding body Science Foundation Ireland and €23 million from 18 industrial partners in a range of sectors, including Intel, DePuy, Medtronic, Merck Millipore and SAB Miller.

The centre will focus on production of discoveries that can translate into products, services and treatments in areas such as computer chip design, medical implants and pharmaceuticals.

State research spending needs to be targeted at employment opportunities, Minister for Jobs , Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said at the launch today at Croke Park. Ireland ranked among the top 10 countries in the world for nanotechnology research, and this made it easier to attract industry partners willing to invest, he said.

Nanoscience was linked to €15 billion worth of Irish exports and 250,000 jobs  in a wide range of sectors, and Amber would play a key role in growing the companies involved, Minister of State for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock said.

Amber would help develop advanced manufacturing in Ireland and would help attract additional foreign direct investment, the centre’s acting director Prof Stefano Sanvito said. It had the potential to influence everyone’s quality of life.

Amber is one of seven new science centres being set up during 2013 with €300 million in State and private sector funding.

Would a carbon tax divert the world from dangerous climate change?

 

Smoke pouring out of a factory in Romania (above left). The recent IPCC report expresses ‘near certainty’ that humans are causing climate change.

We need an effective mechanism for reducing emissions intensity – and we need it fast, maybe carbon tax could be the solution needed for Governments and its people to focus minds on it.

A few weeks ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) put out its Summary for Policymakers, the latest, best estimate of our climate problem.

It’s not a pretty picture. The IPCC is brutally honest about where it can’t provide certainty, such as the exact extent of specific kinds of extreme weather in the future. But the report expresses “near certainty” that humans are causing climate change – that’s science-speak for “we know this” – and that we’re heading for devastating consequences.

The IPCC provides some guidance on what we need to do, broadly speaking. The key idea is the carbon budget (which Climate Centralrecently summarised nicely). In short, we humans can “safely” put only so much carbon into the environment and maintain decent odds of holding warming to 2 degrees. I credit activist Bill McKibben for making this idea mainstream by writing a powerful piece in Rolling Stone last year.

The latest budget numbers this month are not good news. Here’s the crucial paragraph with data  on how many gigatons of carbon (GtC) we have left:

“Limiting the warming caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions alone with a probability of >33%, >50%, and >66% to less than 2°C… will require cumulative CO2 emissions from all anthropogenic sources to stay [below] 1,560 GtC, 1,210 GtC, and 1,000 GtC [respectively]. An amount of 531 GtC was already emitted by 2011.”

So to boil this down, if we want a 66% probability, we have about 469 GtC left, which is much less than the 565 GtC McKibben outlined last year. And the budget is even smaller if you also consider what IPCC calls “non-CO2 forcings” which Michael Mann – he of The Hockey Stick fame – described to me as “other human-produced greenhouse gases, including methane from agriculture/livestock and potentially now from leaks during [gas] fracking.”

McKinsey and PwC have both taken previous IPCC estimates and translated them into annual targets. Basically, we need to improve our carbon intensity – the carbon we emit per dollar of GDP – by about 5% per year. These new IPCC numbers imply we have to go even faster.

All these numbers raise many questions, but let me pose two important ones:

1. Why aren’t we trying to limit warming with a probability of 90%?

For a two-thirds chance of staying below the 2 degree threshold, we only have 469 GtC left. So how small would the budget be if we wanted a much higher probability? The next paragraph in the IPCC report provides some guidance: “A higher likelihood of remaining below a specific warming target, will require lower cumulative CO2 emissions.”

What I suspect – and this is scary – is that there is no realistic number that gets us to a 90% or 95% chance of holding to 2 degrees. Meaning, we’ve already emitted enough to lock in substantial warming. The report backs up my suspicion by declaring, “a large fraction of anthropogenic climate change resulting from CO2 emissions is reversible on a multi-century to millennial timescale.”

So we’re rolling the dice here and only have a two-thirds shot, even with aggressive reductions.

2. How should companies think about the carbon budget concept?

We have to break down the global budget into smaller bites. The reasonable starting point is for every organisation to set a goal of moving at the required pace, which means reducing emissions intensity by roughly 5% per year.

Of course it’s much more complicated to set equitable targets by sector or company, and it’s a fair question to wonder if companies can take this on given their short-term focus. Meaning, why should a company do more on carbon than it can easily justify with regular investment hurdle rates?

It’s a very tough issue to reconcile. The short answer is that companies should accept the budget logic because, as many have said, business can’t succeed in a world that fails. Climate change threatens society, of which business is a subsidiary.

But the macro logic is hard for companies to act on in a quarter-driven economy. So we need to slash carbon in ways that pay off in traditional terms with one major caveat – we should expand our thinking about what payoff means and include all the business value that we can create from clean economy strategies, value that we don’t currently measure well (like reduced risk and brand value).

But will voluntary efforts get us there? Unlikely. We’ll need an actual mechanism for driving carbon emissions out of our economy fast enough. And that means government help. So companies are also going to have to get off the sidelines, pivot from the normal “all regulations are bad” attitude, and then actually lobby for carbon pricing and limits.

Logic and survival instinct dictate that we work  backwards from the budget scientists give us. Our current path – cutting emissions where we can do it cheaply – is not much better than doing nothing. When 5% a year is the best estimate of what’s required, holding carbon emissions flat or cutting a little is nice; but it’s like taking one pill in a 10-day course of antibiotics.

It’ll seem cheaper and easier at first, but you won’t actually solve the problem or feel much better.