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March, 2019

Sirtex eyes markets in China, Japan

Cancer treatment biotech Sirtex Medical wants to expand into China and Japan.


Sirtex Medical’s lead product is a targeted radiation therapy for liver cancer, called SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres.

The microspheres deliver substantial doses of radiation directly to inoperable cancer tumours in the liver.

A major clinical study has shown that the microspheres, when combined with standard chemotherapy, are able to hold back the growth of liver tumours.

“We continue to investigate the expansion of our innovative SIR-Spheres microspheres product into additional markets, including formulating the most appropriate entry strategies for the potentially large markets of China and Japan,” Sirtex Medical chief executive Gilman Wong said on Tuesday.

Mr Wong told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting in Sydney that the incidence of primary liver cancer in China was more than 10 times greater than in the United States.

The incidence of colorectal cancer was about double that of the US.

Japan the second largest medical device market in the world, was a high-priced market.

“Both markets therefore represent attractive, long-term opportunities for Sirtex,” Mr Wong said.

Sirtex also wants to extend the use of its product outside the liver and into organs such as the kidney.

Sirtex achieved record growth in dose sales of the microspheres in fiscal 2015.

“I am pleased to report that the 2016 financial year has commenced strongly, with global dose sales thus far tracking slightly ahead of our expectations,” Mr Wong said.

He said that in September Sirtex sold more than 1,000 doses globally – the first time sales had passed that level in a single month.

Sirtex generated a 69 per cent lift in net profit to $40.3 million in fiscal 2015.

Hundreds die in Afghanistan-Pakistan quake

The death toll could climb in coming days because communications were down in much of the rugged Hindu Kush mountain range where the quake was centred.


In one of the worst incidents, at least 12 girls were killed in a stampede to flee their school building in Taloqan, just west of Badakhshan province where the tremor’s epicentre was located.

“They fell under the feet of other students,” said Abdul Razaq Zinda, provincial head of the Afghan National Disaster Management Agency, who reported heavy damage in Takhar.

Shockwaves were felt in New Delhi in northern India and across northern Pakistan, where hundreds of people ran out of buildings as the ground rolled beneath them. No deaths were reported in India.

“We were very scared … We saw people leaving buildings, and we were remembering our God,” Pakistani journalist Zubair Khan said by telephone from the Swat Valley northwest of the capital Islamabad.

“I was in my car and, when I stopped my car, the car itself was shaking as if someone was pushing it back and forth.”

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No Australians seeking Asia quake help

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was not aware of any Australians seeking consular help after the Afghanistan-centred quake, which has toppled buildings and knocked out power.

The United States and Iran were among countries that offered to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, which already depends heavily on foreign aid after decades of war that have wrecked its economy and infrastructure.

The quake was 213 km (132 miles) deep and centred 254 km (158 miles) northeast of Kabul in Badakhshan province. The U.S. Geological Survey initially measured the magnitude at 7.7, then revised it down to 7.5.

Just over a decade ago, a 7.6 magnitude quake in another part of northern Pakistan killed about 75,000 people.

Spoke to PM Nawaz Sharif & expressed condolences on the loss of lives due to the quake. Offered all possible assistance from India.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 26, 2015

In Afghanistan, where rescue and relief work is likely to be complicated by security threats created by an escalating Taliban insurgency, more than 50 people were reported dead in several provinces including Badakhshan, where hundreds were killed in mudslides last year.

Hundreds of houses were destroyed, creating additional hardship with wintry temperatures setting in.

Remote areas cut off

In Pakistan, the head of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Disaster Management Agency, Amer Afaq said the death toll had reached 167, while military spokesman General Asim Bajwa said nearly 1,000 were injured.

Officials said most of the casualties had occurred in northern and northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan and the death toll was likely to rise.

Dr. John Ebel, chairman of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Boston College in the United States, said the depth of the earthquake had limited its severity and meant damage was likely to be spread broadly rather than focused in one disaster zone.

But he said landslides on the unstable slopes of the mountainous region could pose a major problem to rescuers in the coming days.

“Obviously if a landslide comes in to a village, it will take out buildings, but landslides can also take out roads and communications and power systems, so you lose the ability to access remote areas,” he said.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was ready to provide emergency shelter and relief supply kits to alleviate immediate hardship.

In Pakistan, the northern area of Chitral, where 20 people were killed, was particularly hard hit.

Journalist Gul Hammad Farooqi, 47, said his house had collapsed. “I was thrown from one side of the road to the other by the strength of the earthquake. I’ve never experienced anything like it,” he said.

“There is a great deal of destruction here, and my house has collapsed, but thankfully my children and I escaped.”

Further south, the city of Peshawar reported two deaths and at least 150 injured people were being treated at the city’s main hospital, the provincial health chief said.

In Afghanistan, international aid agencies working in northern areas reported that cell phone coverage in the affected areas remained down in the hours after the initial quake.

“The problem is we just don’t know. A lot of the phone lines are still down,” said Scott Anderson, deputy head of office for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Kabul.

Badakhshan provincial governor Shah Waliullah Adib said about 1,450 houses had been destroyed.

The earthquake struck almost exactly six months after Nepal suffered its worst quake on record on April 25. Including the toll from a major aftershock in May, 9,000 people lost their lives there and 900,000 homes were damaged or destroyed there.

The Hindu Kush mountain region is seismically active, with earthquakes the result of the Indian subcontinent driving into and under the Eurasian landmass. Sudden tectonic shifts can cause enormous and destructive releases of energy. 

The #earthquake caused panic among the residents of #NewDelhi Details: 杭州桑拿,杭州夜生活,/KneAMzko1Y pic.twitter杭州桑拿会所,/qEILi10nQx

— Khaleej Times (@khaleejtimes) October 26, 2015

Sydney man feared dead in boat sinking

An Australian man is missing feared dead and five British nationals have died after a whale watching boat sank off Vancouver Island.


AAP has been told by the family of a Sydney man, 27, that he was on the MV Leviathan II with his girlfriend and her family when it went down.

Her father was one of five British citizens confirmed dead.

The parents of the missing Sydney man were desperately trying to arrange an emergency passport on Tuesday to travel to Canada.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was providing consular assistance.

The ages of the four men and one woman, two of whom were Canadian residents, ranged from 18 to 76.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have sent an underwater recovery team to search for the missing man, with assistance from the Coast Guard and local search and rescue personnel.

“We still remain hopeful, but we have to assume the worst,” said RCMP Corporal Janelle Shoihet.

The others onboard were rescued, some by members of the local indigenous community who rushed to help, but the cause of the sinking is not known.

The 20-metre boat sent up a flare late on Sunday afternoon on a calm, clear and sunny day 12km off Tofino, a resort town on the western edge of Canada’s Vancouver Island.

The boat, undertaking one of the last tours of the whale-watching season, capsized in waters less than 10 metres deep, raising suggestions it may have hit rocks.

Jamie Bray, the owner of the operating company, is cooperating with investigators.

“Traumatised would be an appropriate word. Disbelief,” Mr Bray told reporters of the capsizing.

The boat – which had 24 passengers and three crew – had visited the area almost every day for the past 20 years with an unblemished safety record.

“This is something just totally out of the blue,” Mr Bray said.

He said life jackets are not worn on ships that have enclosed compartments in the event of a sinking because of the difficulty they cause in trying to exit a vessel.

“On larger vessels we’re not required to have the passengers wear the life jackets. On smaller open boats they are,” he said.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed in a statement that the five killed were UK nationals.

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of all those affected by this terrible accident,” Mr Hammond said.

Marc-Andre Poisson, from Canada’s Transportation Safety Board, said it was too early to say what were the causes and contributing factors.

The company has been involved in two previous incidents.

In 1998 one of its vessels capsized during an excursion, sending all four people on board into the water, resulting in the deaths of the operator and a passenger.

In 1996, a boat operator fell asleep and ran into rocks. The boat was destroyed and the operator was seriously injured but there were no passengers on board.

Warning to limit ‘carcinogenic’ red meat

Australians don’t need to stop eating red meat but should limit their intake, say experts responding to international research showing it can cause cancer.


A World Health Organisation review has found that processed meats like sausages and ham cause bowel cancer, and red meat “probably” does too.

WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) analysed 800 studies from around the world.

Cancer Council Australia recently released research estimating that more than 2600 bowel cancers diagnosed nationally in 2010 were attributable to processed and red meat consumption.

The organisation’s Kathy Chapman on Tuesday said red and processed meats were associated with around one in six bowel cancers diagnosed in Australia.

“It might be the high fat content, the charring in the cooking process or big meat eaters missing out on the protective benefits of plant-based foods or a combination of these factors,” she said.

“Whatever the mechanism, eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains can help you to moderate your intake of processed and red meats and can also help to protect against cancer.”

The National Health and Medical Research Council’s recommends people eat no more than 65 to 100 grams of cooked red meat, three-to-four times a week.

Ms Chapman said lean red meat was a source of iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and protein, but heavily processed meat was nutrient poor by comparison.

But she also said the red meat risk should be put in a context, noting the Australian research had found 11,500 cancer cases each year are caused by tobacco, 3900 were linked to obesity and overweight and 3200 to alcohol

UNSW Professor Bernard Stewart, who chaired the IARC review group, says the evidence didn’t support complete abstinence from red meat.

“We aren’t recommending a ban on bacon or taking the beef off the barbecue altogether,” he said.

“But this latest advice should help make Australians more aware of the cancer risks associated with long-term excess red meat and processed meat consumption.”

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said Australians shouldn’t be concerned by the WHO research.

“If you got everything that the WHO said were carcinogenic and took it out of your daily requirements, well, you are kind of heading back to a cave,” he told ABC radio.

Veterans Affairs Minister Stuart Robert said the answer probably lay in the middle.

“I like bacon and eggs and you can’t have a good Saturday morning breakfast with the kids without bacon and eggs, but I wouldn’t be eating it every day,” he told Sky News.

“Everything in moderation and generally you don’t have a problem.”

Meat & Livestock Australia noted the nation’s red meat dietary guidelines, saying its consumption can be part of a healthy, balanced diet.

“Red meat such as beef and lamb is a critical, natural source of iron and zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3 – essential nutrients needed to keep the body and brain functioning well,” a spokesman said.

“Children and women are eating less than the recommended amount of red meat and one in five women have some form of iron deficiency.

“When it comes to prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, the evidence suggests a healthy, balanced diet and active lifestyle is critical – focusing on only one kind of food is not enough.”