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These Prescription Drugs May Reduce Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccines

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Share on PinterestMillions of Americans are taking drugs that suppress the immune system, and research suggests that this could reduce the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Rec Visual / Getty Images

  • Nearly 3 percent of insured adults under the age of 65 in the United States are taking drugs that suppress the immune system.
  • The prevalence of these drugs is an issue as they can make COVID-19 vaccinations less effective.
  • Experts suggest that we may be able to work around this problem by changing the timing of medication or by giving these patients booster vaccinations.
  • However, it is a good idea to get vaccinated as the vaccine may still provide some protection.
  • Patients with compromised immune systems are advised to continue to observe precautions such as hand washing and physical distancing even after vaccination.

Michigan Medicine researchers found that nearly 3 percent of US insured adults under the age of 65 are taking drugs that weaken the immune system.

This is important because taking these drugs can increase a person’s risk for COVID-19 symptoms and hospitalization if they contract the virus.

There is also growing evidence that these drugs may reduce the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccinations.

The main author Dr. Beth Wallace, a rheumatologist at Michigan Medicine, said immunosuppressive drugs are usually used to treat conditions where there is an inappropriate immune response that can potentially harm certain parts of the patient’s body.

Examples of this type of disease include autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, in which the immune system sees certain parts of the patient’s body, such as the joints, as a threat.

When the patient’s immune system starts attacking these parts of the body, damage can result.

Immunosuppressants can be used to contain this attack on the patient’s own tissues.

Wallace said another case where people could use immunosuppressive drugs would be in organ transplantation. In this case, the drugs are used to prevent the immune system from seeing the transplanted organ as an invader and attacking it.

In addition, certain types of chemotherapy used to kill cancer cells can have a side effect on suppressing the immune system.

Wallace said most of these immunosuppressants are not used outside of people with these chronic conditions. However, one type of immunosuppressant that is very commonly used is steroids.

Steroids include drugs like prednisone and dexamethasone.

These drugs can be given short-term for conditions such as allergic rashes, bronchitis, and sinus infections.

“This is a problem,” said Wallace, “because steroids are very immunosuppressive. We are learning more and more that even short courses and low doses of steroids can increase people’s risk of infection and reduce their response to vaccines like the COVID vaccine.”

“Vaccines teach your immune system to recognize a particular threat so that it can respond appropriately if it ever sees that threat again,” Wallace said.

However, according to Wallace, immunosuppressive drugs work by reducing your immune system’s ability to identify and fight off threats.

This suppression is useful in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis in which an undesirable immune response occurs.

“But immunosuppression also decreases the immune system’s ability to respond to things it should respond to, like infections and vaccines,” she said.

“We are beginning to realize that people who take immunosuppressants may have a slower and weaker response to the COVID vaccination.”

Experts say there may be strategies that we can use to circumvent the problem of immunosuppression.

Wallace suggested that some might be able to pause their medication once they’ve been vaccinated, or delay an IV infusion until they’ve had time to develop an immune response to the injection.

Dr. Meghan Baker, a hospitalized epidemiologist who works with immunocompromised patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, added that experts often recommend completing the COVID-19 vaccine series at when the timing of immunosuppressive therapies is flexible is at least 2 weeks before starting the medication.

However, if this is not possible, they recommend that patients speak to their personal doctor about the risks and benefits of delaying therapy.

Wallace went on to explain that specific recommendations regarding the timing of immunosuppressive drugs would need to be tailored to the needs of the individual.

“For example, if someone is on chemotherapy to treat an active cancer, the risk of temporarily stopping that treatment is much different than the risk of stopping a drug someone has been taking for stable rheumatoid arthritis for 10 years,” Wallace said.

She also pointed out that different immunosuppressants can affect the vaccination response differently.

“Guidelines that are useful for certain medical conditions or medications may not be appropriate for others,” she said.

In addition to changing the timing of the drugs, Wallace said, “There are also some studies looking at the effects of a booster shot in this population, an extra dose given several months after the person was first vaccinated. “

Baker said that people on immunosuppressive therapies can and should generally be vaccinated.

“Although the level of protection may vary depending on the underlying disease or immunosuppressive therapy, most people receive some protection from the vaccine,” said Baker. “It can make them less likely to become infected or develop serious illness if they become infected.”

“Since the vaccine may be less effective,” she added, “it is recommended that those with compromised immune systems continue to take precautions to minimize exposure to SARS-CoV-2.”

Precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include such measures as wearing masks, hand washing, physical distancing, and limiting contact with other people as much as possible.

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Women’s Health

Organon announces commitment to accelerating advancements in women’s health at EXPO 2020

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With a diverse portfolio that includes women’s health, biosimilars and established brands, Organon is the only company in the world that is solely focused on women’s health. Serving 140 markets with 60 drugs and solutions, the healthcare company now operates in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, KSA, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Ukraine. In line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, Organon’s mission is to improve and innovate health care for women.

Comment on the start, Ramy Koussa, Vice President of Organon MENAT, said: “Our goal is to advance health care for women in MENAT by addressing their unmet needs and helping to build a healthier and better future for all women, families and communities With local authorities and industry stakeholders, we seek to shift the paradigm of women’s health beyond reproductive health and embrace the full life cycle. This forum is an important first for us at Organon MENAT to listen to women and become a trusted partner in the health care of women in the region, “he added.

Topics discussed by the respected women’s health experts included existing data gaps hindering improvements in women’s health, monitoring progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal of gender equality, investing in health care and accelerating change through economic growth Strengthening. Panelists present included: Dr Susanne Fiedler, Chief Commercial Officer of Organon; Susanne Michail, Regional Director of the United Nations Unit for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Arab States; Bathylle Missika, Head of Networks, Partnerships and Gender at the OECD Development Center; Myra Betron, Director of Gender Issues at Jhpeigo; and Dina El– Shenoufy, Chief Investment Officer at Flat6lab.

MS. Susanne Michail, Regional Director of the United Nations Unit for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Arab States, said: “A better understanding and better management of the unmet health needs of women is essential for achieving the sustainable goals of the 2030 Agenda, including the extremely important gender equality and economic empowerment goals for women. In addition to considering health services as a fundamental right per se, women’s health is also directly related to economic development. For example, women could add $ 28 trillion (or 26% of global GDP) of the world economy by 2025 when their health issues are addressed so they can better participate in the labor market. So it is exciting to see how Organon is focusing on the health needs of women and accelerating advances in women’s health in the region. “

Commentary after the panel discussion, Dr Susanne Fiedler, Organon’s Chief Commercial Officer, said, “At Organon we are working towards a world where every woman can enjoy better health. To this end, we will work closely with industry stakeholders, from private to public organizations, health care providers, Patient societies and others to develop efficient and differentiated operating models to improve the delivery of health services to women across the region. ”

DR Sawsan AS Al Madhi, Director General, Friends of Cancer Patients, added, “Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) is a patient-centric organization. We fundamentally believe that the patient must be heard and empowered to ensure the best possible care. We welcome the introduction of Organon across the board middle East, North africa and Turkey Region and look forward to our collaborative approach to better understand and address the unmet health needs of women. “

With a dynamic business model and entrepreneurial approach, and in line with its commitment to accelerating progress in women’s health, the company also launched the Femtech Accelerator Program in the middle East and North africa together with the early-stage venture capital firm Flat6Labs, the result of their first official regional collaboration. Together, the companies will support women-led and focused start-ups in the digital healthcare sector and help them develop a Medium Viable Product (MVP). Selected start-ups take part in a two-month intensive acceleration program with individual coaching and mentoring with relevant leading industry experts, online training and matchmaking with potential technology, investment and business partners.

Copyright © 2021 Organon Group of Companies. All rights reserved. If you need an update, have an inquiry or need to report a side effect, you can contact the following address:

Tel .: +9714 5639700
Fax: +9714 5805629
E-mail: [email protected]

About Organon:

Organon (NYSE: OGN) is a global healthcare company that emerged from a spin-off from Merck and known outside the United States as MSD The United States and Canadato focus on improving women’s health throughout their lives. For your health, the company has a portfolio of more than 60 drugs and products from a number of therapeutic areas. Led by the reproductive health portfolio coupled with an expanding biosimilars business and a stable franchise of established drugs, Organon’s products generate strong cash flows that will support investments in future growth opportunities in women’s health, including business development. In addition, Organon is pursuing opportunities to work with biopharmaceutical innovators who wish to commercialize their products by leveraging their size and presence in rapidly growing international markets.

Organon has a global presence of significant size and geographic reach, world class commercial capabilities, and approximately 9,000 employees headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey.

For more information, visit www.organon.com and connect with us on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

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FIGO 2021 World Congress Blog – Day Five

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Investigation of Controversies in Treatment at the Israel Forum

The fifth day of the FIGO 2021 World Congress began with a session on treatment controversies, which took place live on the Israel Forum and was streamed directly on our virtual platform. During that session there was a fascinating debate about the use of valaciclovir to prevent vertical transmission of cytomegalovirus. Dr. Yacov Amir spoke first, suggesting that valaciclovir was an effective form of treatment, followed by Dr. Rinat Gabbay-Benziv, who argued that it had its limits. The session ended with a panel discussion and questions and answers between the speakers and moderators.

COVID-19 and the women’s health crisis

We then had the honor of enjoying the BN Purandare lecture organized by the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI). Dr. Alpesh Gandhi gave a keynote on the “Women’s Health Crisis During the COVID-19 Pandemic”.

In his lecture, Dr. Gandhi provided a comprehensive look at the many impacts of the pandemic on women’s health, including an increase in maternal mortality, limited access to family planning and abortion services, delays in gynecological surgeries, and a lack of access to COVID vaccinations for pregnant women. He stressed that the pandemic had resulted in women avoiding health facilities and highlighted the essential role of community health workers, midwives and telemedicine in addressing this challenge.

Learn more about FIGO’s pen surgery training initiative

Following this, the FIGO Committee for Fistulas and Genital Trauma organized a meeting on the FIGO Fistula Surgery training initiative. Gillian Slinger, Senior Project Manager of the FIGO initiative, started the session with an update on the initiative’s recent successes and future plans to expand the training program. Dr. Fekade Aneyachew Aklilu described the role of trainers in delivering fistula surgery training in resource-poor environments and the challenges one faces in becoming a trainer.

Dr. Hillary Mabeya then gave a presentation of advice for aspiring fistula surgery trainees and gave an insight into what to expect when training to become a fistula surgeon. Dr. Andrew Browning closed the session with a talk on persistent incontinence after fistula repair – with an emphasis on diagnosis, management and corrective surgery.

The meeting was rounded off by a discussion between Ms. Slinger and Dr. Mabeya on the importance of continuous training, the essential role of working with larger teams beyond surgeons, and the role FIGO has played in eradicating fistulas around the world.

Prenatal diagnostics

Later, the FIGO Maternal and Fetal Health Track organized a session on prenatal diagnostics. We first heard from Professor Lyn Chitty who gave a talk on rapid fetal exome sequencing for the diagnosis of monogenic conditions in fetuses with structural abnormalities. She focused on explaining what rapid fetal exome sequencing is, what it will deliver, and provided an overview of how it is currently being used in the UK NHS. Professor Svetlana Rechitsky focused on pre-implantation genetic testing (PGT-A) with Embryo Selection, in particular on the management of mosaic embryos.

Dr. James Goldberg spoke about advanced pre-conceptual vehicle screening, focusing on the medical history, recent changes to key guidelines and guidelines, and the clinical utility of these tests. Dr. Antoni Borrell concluded the session with a presentation on maternal plasma aneuploidy testing for all chromosomes, focusing mainly on cell-free DNA (cfDNA) testing.

Global Perspectives on Self-Administered Abortion

We then had an exciting live panel on “Spreading the Revolution – Why Investing in Self-Administered Abortions is the Way Forward to Realizing Women’s Right to Physical Autonomy”, led by Dr. Dorothy Shaw. The panel started with an introduction by Dr. Bela Ganatra on developing the World Health Organization’s recommendations on medical abortion over the past 20 years.

An exciting conversation followed between Dr. Shaw, Dr. Ganatra, Dr. Laura Gil, Professor Dame Lesley Regan, Mr. Shabin Shrestha and Ms. Jedidah Maina. The discussion focused on the main obstacles to self-directed abortion, namely the over-regulation of medical abortion, criminalization, social stigma and a lack of understanding of the issue.

The speakers shared valuable insights from around the world, used their platform to demand an approach that prioritizes listening to women and trusts them to know how to make decisions about their reproductive life. Speakers highlighted the key role of evidence in lobbying, improving access to information and training, removing barriers to access to safe abortion services, and appreciating the voices of people who have had experiences seeking abortion care.

End the day in Europe

The day ended with the Europe Regional Evening, organized by the European Board and College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (EBCOG), which started with a dedicated panel on the effects of COVID on OBGYN education in the region. We then heard from several speakers about examples of European learning fields. The evening ended with a conversation about OBGYN care for migrants in Europe. Each session of the evening was pleasantly ended with musical interludes by the renowned opera singer Danae Kontora, whose incredible voice could be heard at various points on the night of study.

Recordings of the entire meeting will be available on demand on the virtual congress platform within 24 hours.

To learn more about the congress or to register, visit www.figo2021.org.

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Program focused on women vets health care could become mandatory for transitioning troops

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Following a proposal proposed by Congress to ensure women get the information they need about post-military health support services, transition into health care training could become a requirement for women service members leaving their ranks.

“It should be a compulsory program where female veterans can come together and talk about some of their problems in a safe place so that the Department of Defense and their military departments understand what their problems might be,” said Rep. Julia Brownley. D-California, on Tuesday.

“I think one of the problems is that women don’t even know about the program or have access to the program. And certainly, if it is not compulsory, you might miss it completely. “

TIED TOGETHER

Your comments came at a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on available support services for female troops and veterans.

As part of the discussion, panel members praised the transition to women’s health training program jointly run by VA and Defense Department officials over the past three years to provide more targeted information on post-military health care and support services.

But despite good reviews of the program so far, the panel’s lawmakers said they felt more needs to be done to promote it to ensure that female veterans are aware of it and have access to training.

Only about 37 percent of all female veterans in America are enrolled in VA health programs, according to a Congressional Research Service report earlier this year. For comparison: around half of all male veterans are enrolled in the system.

Health care officials have said that in transitioning from military life, it is critical to ensure veterans know and understand their available benefits – especially medical care – how to access them, and offer solutions to challenges such as financial problems, mental health issues, and thoughts of suicide .

Only about 1,500 female service workers have completed the Women’s Health Transitioning Training in recent years, which is currently a self-directed online course offered through the Transition Assistance Program. Of this group, 54 percent chose to enroll in VA health care after completing the course.

Lawrencia Pierce, assistant director of VA’s Office for Outreach, Transition and Economic Development, said officials plan to expand the program in the coming months to include virtual instructors to allow for greater engagement and feedback from course participants.

But William Mansell, director of the Defense Support Service Center, said officials hadn’t thought of making the course compulsory for women who are leaving the military because they prefer to keep the transition classes as flexible as possible to allow the transition forces be able to choose the training that best suits them needs.

“There are alternative avenues and different levels of support that allow service members to control their transition processes,” he said. “And if a changing service member states that they need this training, or if their self-assessment indicates that they need it, then they will get it.”

TIED TOGETHER

The Women in Military Service to America Memorial, the only national museum honoring military women, celebrated its 15th anniversary on October 20, 2012.

However, Browley and other lawmakers said this approach may not be strong enough, especially given the preconceived notion that VA health care is more focused on helping men than women.

“When women leave, they need to know what the options are,” she said. “And many of them leave on a traumatic basis. So many women are subjected to harassment or assault that happened to them during their military service. “

There are currently no pending laws on the matter, but Brownley indicated that if the expansion of training progresses slowly, she could begin creating such a plan.

Along with the addition of virtual coaches, Defense and VA officials said they plan to increase funding for the program in the coming months to allow for wider program visibility through existing programs and transition networks.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs, and the White House for Military Times. He has been reporting on Washington, DC since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veteran politics. His work has received numerous awards, including a 2009 Polk Award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism Award, and the VFW News Media Award.

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