Europe Pulls Spain Out Of ‘Debt Watch’

The European Commission has scored Spain off its ‘debt monitoring’ list after concluding that the country’s deficit is now comfortably below 3% of its Gross National Product (GNP) and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Spain has been under the microscope since 2009 for its excessive debt, along with other, mainly southern-European nations, but specifically along with Portugal, Ireland and Greece, leading to the four being branded the ‘PIGS’.

Although the serious economic problems in each were for radically different reasons – even leading to the European Union having to fight to keep Greece as a member – they inevitably all became tarred with the same brush. Now, though, Spain is the only EU nation to remain on ‘debt watch’.

Recent reports claim Brussels and the International Monetary Fund (FMI) had been less than optimistic about Spain’s economic situation, although their criteria – in both cases – is largely focused on the national deficit and overall GNP growth rather than grass-roots financial health.

Spain closed 2018 with a national debt of 2.5% of its GNP, the first time in a decade it had been below the 3% ‘crisis’ threshold. Brussels has required Spain to cut its expenses by €8 billion in 2019.

Environmentally-Safe Medications Disposal

Spain has become a ‘role model’ thanks to its medications disposal system which helps prevent water contamination and other environmental hazards according to the non-profit association which collects pharmaceutical waste.

SIGRE’s managing director, Juan Carlos Mampaso, says ‘medicine banks’ provided by the organisation are set up in practically every chemist in the country for customers or patients to drop off pills that they no longer need or have passed their use-by date. Healthcare waste such as needles, gauze, disposable or broken thermometers and X-ray plates should not be dropped off in SIGRE banks.

As well as providing a safe disposal method, the SIGRE banks help raise awareness among patients of the environmental benefits involved. Fewer and fewer people are throwing out-of-date pills down the toilet or in bins, where they could end up in the water supply or in landfill and create toxic effects long term. If they do not contaminate the water supply, they can still end up in seas and rivers if the sewage plant filters are not up to scratch and if deposited in the rubbish, end up in landfill where they mix with soil and are soaked into the earth during periods of rainfall, which again, can lead to them leaking into the water supply.

Empty pill boxes and blister packs should also be deposited in SIGRE banks since these can still sometimes contain traces of chemicals which need to be destroyed under controlled conditions.

Once the packaging is cleaned of all traces of chemicals, it is recycled in the relevant paper, card, glass and plastic channels, but medications themselves are destroyed.

Tribute To José Lladró

Co-Founder of one of the world’s largest names in porcelain figurine collectables, José Lladró, has passed away aged 91, meaning his two daughters now own his 15% share of the company.

The company was set up by the three Lladró brothers; Juan, who died in December 2017; José and Vicente, who is still alive, in 1953. They created the Lladró brand in their tiny, humble workshop in their native village of Almàssera, but within less than a decade, their beautiful, intricate and delicate figurines were being sold in bespoke shops and concessions, and in collections in independent boutiques, on all five continents. Lladró figurines are sought-after worldwide and are highly-treasured. Even the cheapest and most basic come with a three-figure price tag and they are all made entirely by hand.

Guided tours around the Tavernes Blanques factory – the only Lladró creation centre in the world – are hugely popular.

Ibuprofen 600 and 1gm Paracetamol On Prescription Only

Ibuprofen in 600mg capsules and paracetamol in one-gram pills are now only available on prescription and pharmacies can be fined for selling them over the counter. They have not been authorised for over-the-counter sales since 2015, when the Law of Guarantees and Reasonable Use of Medications was passed, but it has rarely been enforced.

This leniency started to change in February when the Spanish Medications Verification System (SEVEM) came into effect, meaning every single box of medicines carried its own individual code allowing it to be tracked, plus a seal on the lid preventing them from being opened before sale, but no real controls have been stringent enough to prevent pharmacies from selling Ibuprofen and paracetamol in these quantities.

Now, if any farmacias are caught failing to stick to the prescription requirement, they could be fined between €30,000 and €90,000, depending upon the severity of the offence.
Paracetamol can still be bought over the counter in 500mg or 650mg pills and Ibuprofen in 400mg capsules.

Drug Launched In May Halts Metastatic Breast Cancer

A drug which keeps metastatic breast cancer in check and provides patients with nearly two-and-a-half years grace before resistance sets in has been developed in Spain and is now on the market.

Until now, women with breast cancer with positive hormone receptors which had spread, were given a hormonal treatment which would keep the disease controlled for an average of a year, after which the tumour would become immune to it, normally with fatal results.
400 Spanish women with an HER-positive strain of breast cancer which had come back and spread have been taking Abemaciclib along with the standard hormonal treatment via clinical trials and are responding well, says the research team.

Sold under the brand name of Verzenios, the drug stops the cancer progressing for an average of 28.2 months, according to the Lilly Foundation who developed it with the help of the GEICAM Group of cancer researchers and Madrid’s Gregorio Marañón hospital oncology department.

Around 30,000 women are diagnosed in Spain every year with breast cancer, but only 8% of women diagnosed for the first time will go on to develop a metastasis. Ongoing research into the drug may lead to it being a permanent, lifelong treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

The Lilly Foundation wants to see if it can be adapted for use in other types of tumour and whether it could somehow ‘penetrate into the brain’. Abemaciclib in pill format has been available on prescription since the beginning of May and is said to be ‘very comfortable’ to take, with few, if any, adverse effects.