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Twentyeight Health is a telemedicine company expanding access to women’s health and reproductive care

New York’s Twentyeight Health is taking the wildly telemedicine services for women’s health popularized by companies like Nurx and bringing them to a patient population that previously hadn’t had access. 

The mission to provide women who are Medicaid or underinsured should not be deprived of the same kinds of care that patients who have more income security or better healthcare coverage enjoy, according to the company’s founder, Amy Fan.

The mission, and the company’s technology, have managed to convince a slew of investors who have poured $5.1 million in seed funding into the new startup. Third Prime led the round, which included investments from Town Hall Ventures, SteelSky Ventures, Aglaé Ventures, GingerBread Capital, Rucker Park Capital, Predictive VC, and angel investors like Stu Libby, Zoe Barry, and Wan Li Zhu.

“Women who are on Medicaid, who are underinsured or without health insurance often struggle to find access to reproductive health services, and these struggles have only increased with COVID-19 pandemic limiting access to in-person appointments,” said Amy Fan, co-founder of Twentyeight Health, in a statement. “We are fighting for healthcare equity, ensuring that all women, particularly BIPOC women and women from low-income backgrounds, can access high quality, dignified and convenient care.”

To ensure that its catering to underserved communities, the company works with Bottomless Closet, a workforce entry program for women, and the 8 colleges in the City University of New York ecosystem including LaGuardia College, which has 45,000 students with 70% coming from families making less than $30,000 in annual income.

The company’s services are currently available across Florida, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania and it’s the only telemedicine company focused on contraception services to accept Medicaid.

In another example of how awesome this company is, it’s also working to provide free birth control for women who aren’t able to pay out of pocket and are uninsured through a partnership with Bedsider’s Contraceptive Access Fund. The company also donates 2% of its revenue to Bedsider and the National Institute for Reproductive Health. (Y’all, this company is amaze.)

To sign up for the service, new customers fill out a medical questionnaire online. Once the questionnaire is reviewed by a US board-certified doctor within 24 hours customers can access over 100 FDA-approved brands of birth control pills, patches, rings, shots, and emergency contraception and receive a shipment within three days.

Twentyeight Health provides ongoing care through online audio consultations and doctor follow up messages to discuss issues around updating prescriptions or addressing side effects, the company said.

“Today, low-income women are three times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than the average woman in the U.S., and nearly one-third of physicians nationwide aren’t accepting new Medicaid patients,” said Bruno Van Tuykom, co-founder of Twentyeight Health, in a statement. “This underscores why offering high-quality reproductive care that is inclusive of people across race, income bracket, or health insurance status is more important than ever.”

Launched in 2018, Twentyeight Health said it would use the new

The Conversation: How patent law and medicine regulations could affect New Zealand’s access to a Covid-19 vaccine

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to a lab technician during a visit to the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research at Victoria University on August 27. Photo / Getty Images

By Jessica C Lai of The Conversation

New Zealand has allocated an undisclosed sum, in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars, to access Covid-19 vaccines when they become available.

The funding is on top of a $37 million vaccine strategy, but the government has not released specifics because of commercial sensitivities that “could prevent the best possible deal for New Zealanders”.

Apart from the intricacies of global efforts to develop, test and distribute a vaccine, there are also domestic legal issues the government might need to consider, particularly in patent law and the regulatory review of medicines.

Legislative changes to future-proof the law could avoid delays and lower access costs.

Patent law and access

Some fear pharmaceutical companies could patent a Covid-19 vaccine and hold the world hostage, demanding monopoly prices.

But to get a patent the invention has to be novel and non-obvious. There is possibly enough public information about vaccines currently under investigation or in trials to make it difficult for a company to prove novelty or non-obviousness.

Even if a vaccine were in some way patent-protected in New Zealand, the government is already negotiating for access.

If the negotiations fail or the prices demanded are too high, New Zealand law allows for compulsory licensing and Crown use of patented inventions. Both are also allowed under international trade law.

At the moment, an application for a compulsory licence is only possible after negotiations with a patent owner have failed and if three years have lapsed since the patent was granted (or four years since the patent application was filed). But international trade law states that any requirement to negotiate with the patent owner may be waived in the case of a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency.

A model of a coronavirus is displayed next to boxes for Covid-19 vaccines at an exhibit by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm in Beijing. Photo / AP
A model of a coronavirus is displayed next to boxes for Covid-19 vaccines at an exhibit by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm in Beijing. Photo / AP

Parliament should consider amending New Zealand patent law to be clear that, in a national emergency, anyone can apply for a compulsory licence at any point, without the requirement to negotiate with the patent owner first.

Both international and New Zealand law allow pharmaceutical products manufactured under a compulsory licence to be exported to address a serious public health problem in another country. This might prove important for Pacific nations.

Government emergency access

Government departments can use patented inventions for the services of the Crown. This can be delegated, for example, to a local pharmaceutical manufacturing company.

In an emergency, there is no requirement for the Crown to negotiate a licence with the patent owner first. Nor does the Crown need to wait for a certain period of time to lapse.

This currently covers protecting New Zealand’s security or defence, or managing a state of emergency. A global pandemic can

How patent law and medicine regulations could affect New Zealand’s access to a COVID-19 vaccine

New Zealand has allocated an undisclosed sum, in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars, to access COVID-19 vaccines when they become available.

The funding is on top of a NZ$37 million vaccine strategy, but the government has not released specifics because of commercial sensitivities that “could prevent the best possible deal for New Zealanders”.

Apart from the intricacies of global efforts to develop, test and distribute a vaccine, there are also domestic legal issues the government might need to consider, particularly in patent law and the regulatory review of medicines.

Legislative changes to future-proof the law could avoid delays and lower access costs.

Patent law and access

Some fear pharmaceutical companies could patent a COVID-19 vaccine and hold the world hostage, demanding monopoly prices.

But to get a patent the invention has to be novel and non-obvious. There is possibly enough public information about vaccines currently under investigation or in trials to make it difficult for a company to prove novelty or non-obviousness.




Read more:
Whoever invents a coronavirus vaccine will control the patent – and, importantly, who gets to use it


Even if a vaccine were in some way patent-protected in New Zealand, the government is already negotiating for access.

If the negotiations fail or the prices demanded are too high, New Zealand law allows for compulsory licensing and Crown use of patented inventions. Both are also allowed under international trade law.

At the moment, an application for a compulsory licence is only possible after negotiations with a patent owner have failed and if three years have lapsed since the patent was granted (or four years since the patent application was filed). But international trade law states that any requirement to negotiate with the patent owner may be waived in the case of a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency.

Parliament should consider amending New Zealand patent law to be clear that, in a national emergency, anyone can apply for a compulsory licence at any point, without the requirement to negotiate with the patent owner first.

Both international and New Zealand law allow pharmaceutical products manufactured under a compulsory licence to be exported to address a serious public health problem in another country. This might prove important for Pacific nations.




Read more:
Why ‘vaccine nationalism’ could doom plan for global access to a COVID-19 vaccine


Government emergency access

Government departments can use patented inventions for the services of the Crown. This can be delegated, for example, to a local pharmaceutical manufacturing company.

In an emergency, there is no requirement for the Crown to negotiate a licence with the patent owner first. Nor does the Crown need to wait for a certain period of time to lapse.

This currently covers protecting New Zealand’s security or defence, or managing a state of emergency. A global pandemic can trigger a state of emergency, as happened in New Zealand in March 2020. But to future-proof the law, parliament should consider amending the definition of “emergency” to specifically include health

Alcon Celebrates World Sight Day 2020 and Continues Commitment to Improving Worldwide Access to Eye Care

  • Ongoing donation efforts deliver equipment and medical supplies needed for increasingly important eye care services and procedures to help underserved patients during the pandemic

  • Associates around the world participate in the Steps for Sight Challenge to help improve access to quality eye care

  • New Alcon Foundation video PSA highlights the importance of eye health screenings, premiering at this year’s American Academy of Optometry (AAO) annual meeting

Alcon (SIX/NYSE: ALC), the global leader in eye care dedicated to helping people see brilliantly, today celebrates World Sight Day through its corporate giving and company-led initiatives focused on improving access to quality eye care. In the spirit of this year’s theme, “Hope in Sight,” Alcon associates will help spark donations to global nonprofit organizations that advance eye health. The goal is to support people around the world in need of eye care, particularly as eye health issues, including vision loss, myopia, cataracts, refractive errors and more, have emerged or worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year, our Alcon team has seen firsthand how the COVID-19 pandemic has made access to quality eye care even more challenging for communities across the globe,” said David J. Endicott, Chief Executive Officer, Alcon. “Now more than ever, Alcon is proud to partner with nonprofit eye health organizations who are working toward a common goal of improving access to eye care, including offering free eye surgeries and eye care resources to patients, as well as providing training and education to eye care providers across the world. Through these impactful initiatives, we can help improve people’s vision and inspire hope in sight.”

Celebrated annually, World Sight Day—coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)—is an international day of awareness to bring attention to the global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment. Alcon has a long-standing history of donating surgical equipment and medical supplies to NGOs and hospitals providing care to underserved patients. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many necessary eye surgeries and treatments were delayed, causing a backlog of surgeries and leaving people’s vision at risk for worsened conditions. Cornerstone Assistance Network’s Cataract Clinic— the nation’s first free cataract facility for the uninsured, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area—saw an uptick in patient requests for cataract surgeries since the pandemic began. This World Sight Day, Alcon continues to lend support to Cornerstone Cataract Clinic by supporting surgical services for uninsured patients.

Around the world, Alcon associates are also participating in a variety of activities that support eye health awareness for World Sight Day. Most notably, the Steps for Sight Challenge is a global company initiative that challenges 2,020 associates to take 10,000 steps on World Sight Day to raise a total of $25,000 for three global eye health nonprofit organizations—long-time partner Orbis, Optometry Giving Sight and one surprise recipient to be chosen by an Alcon site.

This year, Alcon has created a video trailer as a public service announcement (PSA) to remind people of the importance of eye health and encourage scheduling

An army of doctors. Access to an experimental drug. A special patient gets special care.

Trump’s caregivers are sparing nothing in their attempt to treat his coronavirus infection.

From his team of providers to his helicopter flight to the hospital to the experimental drug that fewer than 10 others have received outside a clinical trial, Trump has access to care available to few of the other 7.3 million people in the United States infected so far by the coronavirus. Even with symptoms that Conley appeared to describe as moderate at worst, the 74-year-old president is the VIP of VIPs in his battle against covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“I think about it as a realist,” said Robert Wachter, professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. “He is the president of the United States. For him to get the most vigorous therapies . . . even if we have not yet reached the point where there is enough evidence to make it available to everyone in the country, doesn’t seem off to me.”

“I think access to treatment and frequent monitoring is probably a good thing for evolving medical care of a new disease,” added John W. Mellors, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

VIP treatment is a feature of American medicine. Major hospitals throughout the country have private spaces for celebrities, the super-rich and the influential, patients who want to be shielded from the public and just may make a large donation if they are happy with their care. They are U.S. citizens and foreign nationals from places including Saudi Arabia, China, Canada and Mexico.

The coronavirus pandemic, in contrast, has featured memorable scenes of community hospitals from New York to Texas nearly overwhelmed by desperately sick people, of doctors and nurses working around-the-clock with insufficient equipment. At least 208,000 people in the United States have died of covid-19, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Trump has been widely criticized for his handling of the pandemic, especially in the early months, when the federal government left states to scramble for face masks, ventilators and other equipment needed by caregivers and patients. That performance is his greatest weakness in next month’s election against his Democratic rival, former vice president Joe Biden, polls show.

In addition to his suite at the military hospital in Bethesda, Md., the most notable advantage Trump enjoys is access to an experimental antibody treatment that has been given to fewer than 10 people under the “compassionate use” program that the president’s doctors employed to obtain the drug from its manufacturer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. About 2,000 others have received the drug or a placebo because they are enrolled in the company’s clinical trial.

“The VIP treatment around antibodies is ethically troubling and yet there are many, many other things we do to support the president that are different from what you and I get, and we live with it every day,” Wachter said.

The drug has been touted as a potential game-changer by prominent scientists — a way

Girls on the Run International Establishes Commission for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access

Girls on the Run inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.
Girls on the Run inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.
Girls on the Run inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.

Charlotte, NC, Oct. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, Girls on the Run International (GOTRI) announced the establishment of its inaugural IDEA Commission to support inclusion, diversity, equity and access across the national nonprofit organization. GOTRI designs programming that strengthens third- to eighth-grade girls’ social, emotional, physical, and behavioral skills to successfully navigate life experiences. More than 2 million girls have participated in the program since it launched 24 years ago.

“This commission will help us deliver on our commitment to be a place where all people feel welcome, worthy and empowered,” said Elizabeth Kunz, CEO of Girls on the Run International. “Staff and volunteer leaders from throughout our organization were intentionally selected to ensure a wide range of perspectives and experiences are brought to the meaningful work of advancing inclusion, diversity, equity and access at Girls on the Run.”

The commission will be led by Juliellen Simpson-Vos, vice president of council development at GOTRI, and Ivory Patten, legal manager at GOTRI. Elizabeth Kunz, CEO, will serve on the committee to assist in strategic guidance and oversee organizational commitment. The following individuals will be serving on the IDEA Commission and developing the organization’s national IDEA vision and strategy:

Mollie Anderson, Chicago, Illinois

Melida Barbosa, New York, New York

Kathleen Cannon, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rakesh Gopalan, Charlotte, North Carolina

Tenika Hill, Riverside, California

Erica Hernandez, San Francisco, California

Rachel de Jesus, Flagstaff, Arizona

Hao Le, San Jose, California

Sonal Modisette, Seattle, Washington

Jennifer Passey, Fairfax, Virginia

Kaityre Pinder, Atlanta, Georgia

Meg Pomerantz, Durham, North Carolina

Elena Simpkins, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Megan Wolfe, Mountlake Terrace, Washington

The IDEA Commission will oversee seven subcommittees created to inform, deepen and articulate the activities and outcomes of the Commission. To learn more about the organization’s ongoing commitment to IDEA, please visit https://www.girlsontherun.org/inclusion-diversity/

ABOUT GIRLS ON THE RUN INTERNATIONAL Girls on the Run International designs programming that strengthens third- to eighth-grade girls’ social, emotional, physical, and behavioral skills to successfully navigate life experiences. Each year, more than 200,000 girls ages eight to 13 participate in communities in 50 states and Washington DC. More than 2 million girls have participated in the program since it launched in 1996. The curriculum reaches girls at a critical stage, strengthening their confidence at a time when society begins to tell them they can’t. Underscoring the important connection between physical and emotional health, the program addresses the whole girl when she needs it the most. Results show GOTRI programs inspire and empower girls to build healthy physical and mental habits that last long beyond the program. According to a longitudinal study conducted by The University of Minnesota, 97% of Girls on the Run participants said they learn critical life skills including resolving conflict, helping others or making intentional decisions; and 94% of parents reported it was a valuable experience for their

Knorr and Dascha Polanco Launch #FeedTheVote to Elevate Access to Nutritious Food as an Issue This Voting Season

Dascha Polanco Partners with Knorr to Encourage Americans to Register to Vote

This election season, a record 54 million people living in America face food insecurity*. Today, Knorr, in partnership with Dascha Polanco – an actress who has formerly experienced food insecurity and was a recipient of SNAP benefits – is launching #FeedTheVote. This partnership will work to drive voter registration across the US to ensure people experiencing food insecurity can make their voices heard where it matters most – at the ballot box. Through social media and on-site locations throughout the country, Knorr will provide education, resources, and access to nutritious food to encourage voter registration and advocacy for millions of Americans experiencing food insecurity.

Since 1979 Knorr has worked closely with Feeding America, The Food Trust, and other partners to provide families with consistent access to nutritious food. The brand is now advocating for wider systemic change with Dascha Polanco to elevate the connection between hunger, food assistance and voting this election season.

“Quite simply, no one should go hungry. At Knorr, we believe everyone should have access to affordable and nutritious food. As we strive to make that belief a reality through our products and recipes, we know that food access is a government funding issue – and thus, a voting issue,” said Bentley King, Director, Savory North America at Unilever. “Working hand in hand with experts in this space like Feeding America, UnidosUS and our partner Dascha, we’re committed to encouraging everyone to register to vote and enabling Americans to impact policy that help their family eat healthier.”

Today, Dascha Polanco and a team of #FeedTheVote ambassadors will share empty plates to symbolize the millions of Americans who will not have food on the table unless elected officials make hunger and food access a priority this November. Posts will link to Knorr’s #FeedTheVote website where followers can register to vote and learn more about how they can advocate for access to nutritious food.

“As someone who knows what it feels like to not know where your next meal is coming from, I was inspired to do everything in my power to draw attention to the difference we can make by voting,” said Dascha Polanco. “I’m excited to partner with Knorr to educate Americans about the power of their vote and the steps they can take to become part of the solution in ending food insecurity.”

#FeedTheVote has also collaborated with UnidosUS to provide 4,000 families with resources to create nutritious meals at home. As the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, UnidosUS has been at the forefront of alleviating food insecurity and has actively registered and educated new voters. At select UnidosUS partner affiliate sites people can register to vote, locations include:

  • AAMA (The Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans): 6001 Gulf Freeway, Houston, TX 77023

  • Chicano Federation: 3180 University Avenue, Suite 400, San Diego, CA 92104

  • Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO) : 12000 East 47th

Telehealth Patient Satisfaction Surges During Pandemic but Barriers to Access Persist, J.D. Power Finds

Amwell Ranks Highest among Direct-to-Consumer Brands; Cigna Ranks Highest among Health Plans

Telehealth has emerged as one of the bright spots in the “new normal,” giving patients the ability to meet virtually with healthcare providers from the safety and comfort of home. However, the technology is still experiencing growing pains. According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study,SM released today, patient satisfaction with telehealth services has been increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but several barriers to access still exist for many patients, including those most at risk.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201001005094/en/

J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study (Graphic: Business Wire)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a moment of truth for telehealth, and, by most accounts, the technology is rising to the challenge and delivering a high degree of satisfaction among those who use it,” said James Beem, managing director of global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power. “However, even though the public awareness with Telehealth is higher due to the influence of COVID-19, the barriers for the consumer to engage with the technology has been a consistent theme in our research.”

Following are some key findings of the 2020 study:

  • Great patient experience: The overall customer satisfaction score for telehealth services is 860 (on a 1,000-point scale), which is among the highest of all healthcare, insurance and financial services industry studies conducted by J.D. Power.

  • Barriers to access persist: Though telehealth has been pitched as a solution to improve access to healthcare for everyone, more than half (52%) of telehealth users say they encountered at least one barrier that made it difficult to use telehealth. The most common hurdles are limited services (24%); confusing technology requirements (17%); and lack of awareness of cost (15%). Additionally, 35% of telehealth users indicate they experienced a problem during a visit. Tech audio issues (26%) are the most common problem.

  • At-risk patients have lower levels of satisfaction: Overall satisfaction is 117 points lower among patients with the lowest self-reported health status than among patients who consider themselves to be in excellent health. Similarly, healthier patients are significantly more likely to understand the information provided during the visit, receive clear explanations, feel their visits are highly personalized and obtain a high-quality diagnosis.

  • Safety becomes a top driver of utilization: Among patients who used a telehealth offering this year, 46% say their top reason for choosing telehealth was safety. That compares with just 13% in 2019.

Study Rankings

Amwell ranks highest in telehealth satisfaction among direct-to-consumer brands, with a score of 885. Doctor on Demand (879) ranks second.

Cigna ranks highest among payers of health plan-provided telehealth services with a score of 874. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan (867) ranks second and UnitedHealthcare (865) ranks third.

The J.D. Power U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study, now in its second year, measures consumer satisfaction with their telehealth service experience based on four factors (in order of importance): customer service (42%); consultation (28%); enrollment (19%); and billing and

WTO Should Play Role in COVID-19 Medicine Access: Candidate | World News

GENEVA (Reuters) – A key contender to head the World Trade Organization told Reuters on Tuesday she thinks the body should play a role in helping poorer countries access COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, and this topic should be part of negotiations if she wins.

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, seen by delegates as a top candidate to lead the WTO, currently chairs the GAVI vaccine alliance board and stressed her credentials among five remaining candidates “at the intersection between public health and trade”.

“Trade can contribute to public health – seeing that connection, invoking those (WTO) rules, actively discussing COVID-19 issues and how WTO can help,” the former finance minister and World Bank managing-director said. “For me, that would be a priority.”

Okonjo-Iweala, one of two African candidates in the second of three rounds, says she is discussing with members the options for using WTO intellectual property rules to get special licences to deliver COVID-19 medicines to poorer countries.

“This is wonderful because it could also contribute to more accessibility and affordability eventually for vaccines and for therapeutics,” she said, adding she hoped such discussions would be part of a planned 2021 trade negotiations package.

She also said she would urge the at least 80 countries and territories which have raised barriers in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including on medical equipment, to lower them.

Interest in COVAX – the joint programme between GAVI and WHO to distribute COVID-19 vaccines equitably – is growing, she said. A GAVI spokesman confirmed there were 167 now committed to the plan – 75 wealthier economies and 92 poorer economies.

“Countries have been coming on their own … We are getting close to to the immediate goal (of $2 billion) which is very comforting because that means we can make advanced purchase commitments for vaccines,” she said, referring to the initial fund-raising goal to supply low- and middle-income countries.

China, Russia and the United States remain outside the plan.

Okonjo-Iweala urged African countries not to hedge their bets and sign separate procurement deals to COVAX, at least not in the initial phase which anticipates giving them enough doses to vaccinate up to 20% of their populations.

“If you make a mistake and procure the wrong thing people will run away,” she said, referring to vaccine scepticism.

She repeated pledges to reform the WTO and said she was having “constructive conversations” with Washington – a deep critic of the body and whose support is vital for any DG’s future tenure.

In a possible turning point in the race last week, two delegates said she received a standing ovation at a presentation before African ambassadors at which her rival, Kenya’s Amina Mohamed, also presented.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Giles Elgood)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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