Spotlight On... India to cut prices for essential drugs; MDR-TB drug slated for pilot in India; ASLAN accepted for poster presentation on ASLAN001; and more...

A precedent-setting price cut to more than 700 so-called essential drugs in India could happen as soon as April. The drugs in question include painkillers, infection treatments, diabetes drugs, cardiac treatments as well as antibiotics and could fall by as much as 3%, according to a report in the Economic Times.This is the first time, the report said, that an "across the board" cut in prices for treatments on the National List of Essential Medicines has happened since the country's National Pharmaceutical Policy was put into effect in 2013. The price cut will adhere to the change in annual wholesale price index, which was -2.75% for the January-December period. The report said most drug companies supported the move, but some have balked at the cuts and are pushing the government to cancel its plans. Report

> A bedaquiline drug will be pilot tested for toxicity in India to combat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Indian population patients. Report

> Singapore-based ASLAN Pharmaceuticals said gastric cancer candidate varlitinib (ASLAN001) was accepted for a poster presentation at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in April. Release

> Chinese R&D services company WuXi PharmaTech launched its LabNetwork mobile app, enabling chemists and sourcing professionals to easily search a database of research chemicals from hundreds of of chemical suppliers. Release

> Official data released by China's National Health and Family Planning Commission found that 16,744 deaths in China during 2015 were due to infectious diseases, the majority of which were caused by Class B. Report

> Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare last week approved a new generic drugs for reimbursement in June, a spokesman said, including a version of Eli Lilly & Co.'s ($LLY) Zyprexa (olanzapine) that will see stiff competition from nearly two dozen companies. MHLW website

> Fifteen imposters have been jailed in China for "scalping" patients by posing as medical staff and prescribing expensive drugs as well as buying tickets needed to make doctor appointments and inflating the price of them when they resold them. Report

> Taipei-based OBI Pharma said it plans to move to a global Phase III study of its breast cancer treatment OBI-822/821 following test results that, while not meeting primary efficacy end point of progression free survival, did show "significant improvement." Release

> U.S.-based Sandoz and Baddi, India-based Macleods Pharmaceuticals said they were recalling drugs made at plants in India due to quality control problems highlighted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Report

> Shanghai's Fudan University has released a new study that shows children in China's eastern Jiangsu province are being overexposed to antibiotics, compounding the already large problem of overuse of the drugs all over the mainland. Report

> Hong Kong researchers say they have identified two genes key to triggering the MERS virus that has killed more than 500 people around the world. Report