Goaltide Daily Current Affairs 2023

Nov 17, 2023

Current Affair 1:
First 4 made-in-India drugs for rare diseases launched



The Union Health Ministry Friday announced that the first four made-in-India drugs for rare diseases, also called orphan diseases, which will bring down costs of the medicines by up to hundred-fold.

For example,

The diseases for which the generic drugs have been developed include Tyrosinemia Type 1, which is characterised by jaundice, liver failure, liver cancer. The imported drug for the disease, Nitisinone, currently costs Rs 2.2- 6.5 crore per year depending on the body weight of the child.

The generic version of the drug launched will bring down the cost of the drug to Rs 2.5 lakh per annum.

About Policy:

As part of the National Policy on Rare Disease, an initiative in collaboration with government agencies and drugmakers had been started last year and 13 priority rare diseases.

A rare disease is a health condition of a particularly low prevalence that affects a small number of people — less than 1 per 1,000 according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) — but collectively afflicts about 6-8 percent of the population in any country at any given time.


Nearly 80 percent of these diseases are genetic in nature.


The Government has launched National Policy for Rare Diseases (NPRD), 2021 in March, 2021 for the treatment of rare disease patients. The salient features of NPRD, 2021 are as under:

The rare diseases have been identified and categorized into 3 groups namely Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3.

Group 1:  Disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment.

Group-2: Diseases requiring long term/lifelong treatment having relatively lower cost of treatment and benefit has been documented in literature and annual or more frequent surveillance is required.

Group 3: - Diseases for which definitive treatment is available but challenges are to make optimal patient selection for benefit, very high cost and lifelong therapy.

  1. Provision for financial support of up to Rs. 50 lakhs to the patients suffering from any category of the Rare Diseases and for treatment in any of the Centre of Excellence (CoE) mentioned in NPRD-2021, outside the Umbrella Scheme of Rashtriya Arogaya Nidhi.
  2. To receive financial assistance for treatment of rare disease, the patient of the nearby area may approach the nearest Centre of Excellence to get him assessed and avail the benefits.
  3. Eight (08) Centres of Excellence (CoEs) have been identified for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of rare diseases.
  4. Five Nidan Kendras have been set up for genetic testing and counselling services.

In addition, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance has given exemption from Basic Customs Duty to drugs or medicines, which are used in the treatment of Rare Diseases when imported as specified in NPRD, 2021.

Department of Pharmaceuticals has initiated the implementation of Production Linked Incentive Scheme for Pharmaceuticals. The Scheme provides for financial incentives to manufacturers selected under the Scheme for domestic manufacturing of various product categories, which also include Orphan drugs.

Other three drugs as per the news:

Gaucher’s disease, which causes liver or spleen enlargement, bone pain or crisis and acute fatigue. The imported drug for this ailment costs Rs 1.8-Rs 3.6 crore, but the drug launched in India has been priced at Rs 3-6 lakh per annum.

The third disease for which the indigenous medicine will be available now is Wilson’s disease, whose symptoms include copper deposit in liver, brain, cornea, psychiatric symptoms and destruction of red blood cells. The imported version for the drug used to treat the disease costs Rs 1.8 to Rs 2.1 crore per annum but the generic versions launched will bring down the cost to Rs 2.2 lakh per annum.

Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome which results in complex and difficult to treat seizures. Cannabidiol oral solution used in treating it costs Rs 6-20 lakh per annum But the generic drug will bring down the cost to Rs 1-5 lakh every year.

Current Affair 2:
Mars solar conjunction


When Mars and Earth will be on opposite sides of the Sun, a period is known as Mars solar conjunction. Every two years, Mars is obscured from the earth’s view for approximately two weeks as it hides behind the sun.

During solar conjunction, Mars becomes unobservable from the earth due to the strong glare of the sun. Since the earth and Mars orbit the sun at different speeds, the phenomenon occurs roughly once every 25 months. We are currently in the period of Mars solar conjunction for 2023.

How it affects communication?

The Sun expels hot, ionized gas from its corona, which extends far into space. During solar conjunction, this gas can interfere with radio signals when engineers try to communicate with spacecraft at Mars, corrupting commands and resulting in unexpected behaviour from our deep space explorers.

The sun’s radio frequency emission makes reliable communication between the planets impossible, forcing rovers like Curiosity and Perseverance on the red planet to be on their own till the conjunction subsides. Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory do not send any new signals to Mars during solar conjunction.

Current Affair 3:
Why is nitrogen-9 special?



For the new study, a team of researchers from China and the U.S. used a sophisticated experimental setup to check for the existence of the exotic nitrogen-9 isotope. Scientists have discovered “strong evidence” for the existence of the unusual nitrogen-9 isotope, challenging previous interpretations and offering a new perspective on subatomic structures.

Isotopes are atoms of a given element that vary only in the number of neutrons. This difference sets apart one isotope from another. Many isotopes are also unstable, especially those whose atoms have too few neutrons for the number of protons

Unstable isotopes are short-lived, and often decay by releasing some energy to achieve a more stable configuration.

Today we will learn about unusual isotope, nitrogen-9

Atoms of the nitrogen-9 isotope are characterised by seven protons and two neutrons – which is an unusually high proton-to-neutron ratio. This disparity has a critical effect on the isotope’s stability, influencing its decay processes as well as overall behaviour.

Nitrogen has two stable isotopes, 14N and 15N (atomic masses of 14 and 15, respectively). 14N is the more abundant of the two, comprising 99.63% of the nitrogen found in nature.

Current Affair 4:
AI-powered chemist makes oxygen from Martian meteorites



An artificial intelligence-powered robot has, without any human intervention, used Martian meteorites to make a catalyst that can produce oxygen from water.

Usually, we think about bringing oxygen from Earth to Mars, but that’s very expensive and hard to do. The good news is, this new robot can use the stuff already on Mars to make oxygen. This is a smarter and cheaper way to get oxygen for people who might live on Mars one day.

To develop a catalyst for those reactions, RESEARCHERS IN China made a machine with a robotic arm that used laser spectroscopy to analyse the composition of five meteorite samples and come up with the best catalyst. All of this took 6 weeks; a human chemist would have taken 2,000 years.


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