On Monday, Governor Bill Lee issued an executive order that urges Tennesseans to stay at home and closes non-essential businesses through April 14. The “safer at home” order follows similar restrictions put in place by governors in at least 30 states. Health care and public health operations, including medical device and biotech companies, are considered essential services and can remain open.
In other state updates, the State of Tennessee is seeking donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies. The Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (TNECD) compiled resources to support businesses impacted by COVID-19, including a helpful video that breaks down how to apply for SBA economic injury disaster loans. And the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry has launched the TN Creators Respond initiative to connect manufacturing companies with medical professionals to create medical equipment and determine greatest demand.
Below, we’ve highlighted what our members are doing to limit the spread of COVID-19. Visit our COVID-19 page for additional resources and please email Sara Pruneski if you want to share updates or have any supply needs.
Medical Device Companies Respond to COVID-19
The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) is made up of many members who manufacture medical devices that are critical in the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, including ventilators, diagnostic tests, and other devices. Recently, AdvaMed has worked on behalf of the medical device industry to ensure the integrity of the supply chain for ventilator manufacturing, including by working with state and local officials to continue supply chain operations under shelter-in-place orders.
This week, AdvaMed announced that 17 diagnostics companies have received FDA Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) and are rapidly scaling up capacity for COVID-19 testing. Beyond testing, medical device companies are “doing absolutely everything they can to make sure everyone has access to the tools they need to prevent, diagnose, and treat this disease,” said Scott Whitaker, president and CEO of AdvaMed.
New Tennessee Innovation Crowdsource Platform
Our partners at Launch Tennessee are working with Governor Lee’s COVID-19 Unified Command to rapidly connect solutions, resources, and capabilities and address immediate challenges in our state due to COVID-19. Visit the Tennessee Innovation Crowdsource Platform for more information.
EDP Biotech Offers Resources
Knoxville-based EDP Biotech spoke to Teknovation about how they are impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions. According to CEO Eric Mayer, they are “exploring ways that we can use our facility (which is biosafety level 2) and our cancer blood testing equipment and re-purpose the lab to help during this pandemic response. While it is not a pivot for the business, we understand that these difficult times require immediate and creative solutions, and EDP Biotech has offered our help in any way needed at the local and state level.”
EDP Biotech delivers cost-effective diagnostics that detect early disease. Their signature product is ColoPlex™, a blood-based colorectal cancer diagnostic assay.
GSK Makes Adjuvant Technology Available
To support the COVID-19 response, GSK has made their vaccine adjuvant technology available to scientists and organizations working on candidate vaccines. The use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and therefore contributing to protection of more people. To date, GSK is working with five partner companies and research groups in pre-clinical experiments across the globe.
GSK is also taking part in the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, which aims to identify promising molecules that could be used to treat COVID-19, by making available compounds from its libraries. In addition, GSK is evaluating its products to determine if any could be used beyond their current indications in response to the pandemic.
Lastly, GSK has donated $10 million to The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, created by the UN Foundation and WHO, to support WHO and partners to prevent, detect, and manage the pandemic.
Other important updates and resources:
- View this checklist of COVID-19 emergency loans for small businesses from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
- An interdisciplinary team at Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center is working on a ventilator prototype to meet the growing demand.
- Meanwhile, universities across Tennessee are using 3D printers to make personal protective equipment (PPE) to fill the shortage. See efforts at Tennessee Tech, Pellissippi State Community College, and the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Nashville-based SmileDirectClub has also shifted to 3D printing of face shields for medical workers.
- Cumberland Pharmaceuticals announced a second national initiative aimed at the COVID-19 response that expands the availability of their drug Caldolor (ibuprofen) to treat patients with symptoms associated with COVID-19 infections, like fever and severe hyperthermia.
- Read this roundup of what PhRMA members are doing on the frontlines of the virus.