WisPolitics, WisBusiness Health Care Report Oct. 20

WisPolitics, WisBusiness Health Care Report Oct. 20

An upcoming clinical study in Madison will explore if mRNA COVID-19 vaccines could cause allergic reactions in people who are considered “highly allergic.” 

The UW School of Medicine and Public Health is recruiting participants aged 12 and older for the study. They are seeking those who’ve either had a severe allergic reaction in the past 15 years, are allergic to a medication or have a mast cell disorder, which can lead to repeated anaphylactic episodes.

Such reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are “quite rare” according to a release from UW Health, which cites data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing anaphylaxis has occurred in between two and five people per million vaccinated. The multicenter study will focus on the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

Dr. Mark Moss, principal investigator on the study and a professor of medicine with the UW SMPH, says most of these rare reactions have occurred in people who have a history of allergies.

“It’s critically important for us to better understand who is having negative reactions to the vaccines and why so that we can better advise those individuals who are highly allergic, or who have a mast cell disorder, about the risks and benefits of receiving these two vaccines,” Moss said in the release.

Participants in the study will get two separate vaccine doses about three weeks apart, though a third will get a placebo before they receive the first vaccine dose. Because those that receive the placebo saltwater injection will still be vaccinated, they will require three visits rather than two.

After each dose, medical staff will be monitoring participants for 90 minutes to see if an allergic reaction occurs. Participants will be tracking any symptoms through a study website or a paper form for the following week, and those running the study will also check in by phone.

A spokesperson for UW Health says the Madison site is hoping to enroll 30 people, but says that number could increase. It’s one of 29 study locations, all of which are actively recruiting participants. The Systemic Allergic Reactions to SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination study is funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Get more details on the study here, and see the release below.

The GOP-run state Senate voted today along party lines to ban abortions if they’re sought due to the sex, race or disability of the fetus and to cut off abortion providers from the state’s Medical Assistance program.

The chamber also approved legislation requiring doctors to tell women who have begun the drug regimen for a chemical abortion that the procedure can be reversed, which critics say isn’t supported by science.

Republicans have pushed a series of abortion bills this fall, including some that Dem Gov. Tony Evers vetoed last session.

Dem state Sen. Kelda Roys, the former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, accused her GOP colleagues of playing politics on the issue.

“We’re not making law here today,” the Madison Dem said. “All we’re trying to do is hype up the conservative base before an election and try to put the governor in a tough spot. But we know he’s going to veto these because time and again Gov. Evers has proven himself to be a champion for women.”

Republicans largely didn’t speak on the bills ahead of the final votes.

All four bills now head to the Assembly, which would have to sign off before they could go to the guv.

See more on the bills at WisPolitics.com.

The Assembly Health Committee has approved a series of abortion-related bills, including one seeking to ban the procedure if it’s sought due to the sex, race or disability of the fetus.

GOP Rep. Chuck Wichgers, of Muskego, voted against several of the bills, arguing they weren’t stringent enough, including AB 595.

Though it would ban abortions if the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or other congenital disability, it includes an exception for a “life-limiting fetal anomaly” that is incompatible with sustaining life after birth. Wichgers proposed an amendment to remove that exception, but the committee didn’t take it up.

He was also one of three GOP members who voted yesterday against bipartisan legislation that would allow pharmacists to dispense oral contraceptives and birth control patches to those who are 18 or older.

Rep. Rachael Cabral-Guevara, R-Appleton, also voted against the bill, which cleared committee 10-3, saying her opposition wasn’t about access to birth control. She said pharmacists had raised concerns that it was another thing being added to their plate that was more about increased revenue for businesses than it was for the safety of the patient.

Wichgers repeatedly called AB 36 a “Democrat bill” designed to increase access to contraception in rural areas. Wichgers said he opposes increasing access to something that creates the opportunity for fewer people.

“What is contraception? It is the opposite of conception,” Wichgers said, adding if the Legislature should be increasing access to anything, it should be medication to treat things like heart issues or diabetes.

Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, took issue with Wichgers’ comments, saying Wichgers was dangerously close to implying those who can get pregnant and have children “have some sort of mission of populating.”

She argued the bill would do more to prevent abortions by reducing unwanted pregnancies than all the legislation on the Health Committee’s agenda combined. She also predicted Gov. Tony Evers would veto the abortion bills.

“If it is a Democratic idea that individuals, particularly women, should have the freedom to determine their own destiny by determining when and if they get pregnant and have children, I’m proud to be a Democrat,” Subeck said.

See more at WisPolitics.com.

A medical equipment provider called RehabPulse has closed on a $4.5 million funding round as it looks to expand its distribution model. 

The Madison-based company also announced it’s begun offering integrated online insurance claims processing through its online marketplace. It provides “durable medical equipment” such as wheelchairs, scooters, respiratory devices, medical braces, slings and more.

The investment funds will be used to hire more staff, continue development on its insurance claims processing service, and “continue to innovate the artificial intelligence and deep tech” used in its platform, a release shows. Investors in the round include Wisconsin Investment and Strategic Capital Partners as well as Dr. Juliet Breeze, a health care entrepreneur and executive based in Texas.

“RehabPulse has the opportunity to revolutionize an area of healthcare that is cumbersome and antiquated,” Breeze said in a statement. “An update to the process of prescribing and obtaining durable medical equipment for patients in a cost-effective and convenient manner is long overdue.”

See the release below.

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Press Releases

– UW Health: Seeking participants for study examining allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines

– RehabPulse: Lands $4.5 million funding round; introduces online insurance claims processing for medical equipment

– UW Health: Pediatric research study aims to get medically complex K-12 students back to school safely

– U.S. Sens. Baldwin, Smith: Call for continued support for opioid overdose prevention and harm reduction in COVID-19 recovery efforts