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HEALTH

Profit dip for Swedish drugmakers AstraZeneca

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said Thursday that net profits sank 37 percent last year, hit by the expiry of drug patents and "tough" markets, and warned revenues would fall further in 2013.

Profit dip for Swedish drugmakers AstraZeneca

Earnings after taxation dived to $6.3 billion in 2012, compared with $10 billion in the previous year, AstraZeneca said in a results statement.

Revenues meanwhile tumbled 15 percent to $28 billion and were also expected to experience a “mid-to-high single digit percentage decline” in 2013.

“Our performance in 2012 reflects a period of significant patent expiry and tough market conditions globally,” said CEO Pascal Soriot, who took over late last year.

“Despite the challenges we face, I am excited about AstraZeneca’s fundamental strengths, which will be key in returning the company to growth.”

The London-listed company faces crucial patent expiries up until 2015 on drugs such as schizophrenia treatment Seroquel and heartburn and ulcer drug Nexium.

It will also suffer the loss of patent protection in the United States for its key anti-cholesterol drug Crestor in 2016.

Soriot was previously a senior executive at Swiss drugsmaker Roche and took up his role at the start of October after the resignation of David Brennan.

Brennan had already announced plans to cut 7,300 jobs by 2014 in a bid to improve profitability at the firm, which has come under heavy pressure in recent years from generic drugs competition.

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HEALTH

Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime 

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