460 30 JANUARY 2015 • VOL 347 ISSUE 6221
AROUND THE WORLD
Senate: Climate change no hoax
WASHINGTON, D.C. | In a symbolic move,
the U.S. Senate voted 98 to 1 on 21 January
to approve a measure stating that climate change is real and “not a hoax.” The
measure, sponsored by Senator Sheldon
Whitehouse (D–RI), was aimed at forcing
Republican senators to take a stand on an
issue that is sensitive with conservative
voters. It also poked fun at Senator James
Inhofe (R–OK), who has called climate
change “a hoax.” But Inhofe turned the
tables at the last minute, endorsing the
measure and redefining it: Only the idea
that humans could affect climate is a hoax,
he said. The switch gave Republicans
political cover to vote for the measure, but
15 Republicans also supported a separate,
ultimately unsuccessful, measure that said
humans do contribute to climate change.
No patent for hepatitis C drug
NEW DELHI | The Indian Patent Office
this month rejected a patent on hepatitis
C drug Sovaldi, produced by U.S.-based
Gilead Sciences Inc. Sovaldi has transformed care for hepatitis C by dramatically
cutting treatment time and side effects, but
has also come under fire for its $84,000
price tag for a 12-week course. Gilead
offered India a discount of 99%—still
out of reach for most Indians. The patent rejection opens the door to sale of a
generic form of Sovaldi in India; according to a 2014 study in Clinical Infectious
Diseases, manufacturing a 12-week course
of the generic would cost at most $136.
Gilead has challenged the decision.
In 2013, India rejected a patent on the
leukemia drug Gleevec.
Ebola triggers WHO reforms
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND | The World
Health Organization ( WHO) has embarked
on reforms to make it better able to deal
with events like the Ebola epidemic in West
Africa. At a special session on 25 January in
Geneva, WHO’s Executive Board adopted
a resolution that calls for strengthening
tions for 5 million hectares, including 600,000 in an oil- and gas-
rich coastal plain, within Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Both plans are drawing criticism from politicians in Alaska, which
depends heavily on the oil and gas industry for revenues. “We are going to fight back,” vowed Senator Lisa Murkowski (R–AK), who heads
the Senate’s energy committee. The moves come on the heels of an
executive order released last week by President Barack Obama aimed
at improving coordination of U.S. policy in the Arctic as the United
States prepares to assume the chairmanship of the multilateral Arctic
Council later this year. The order creates an Arctic Executive Steering
Committee to streamline agency policies and collaborate with state,
local, tribal, and other groups.
Tug of war over Arctic oil
“The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any
other time in history.” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Big Bet” for 2015, noting improved African GDP and agricultural productivity and new ways to combat epidemics.
Brooks Range in Alaska’s Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge.