Republished from Star Tribune
As President-elect Joe Biden was making his first transition moves, Minnesota’s Medical Alley trade group wrote him a letter.
“Today, I offer to you the talent, insights, and expertise of Minnesota’s Medical Alley community,” CEO Shaye Mandle wrote in the Nov. 16 letter. “We look forward to the opportunity to assist you and your administration in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The move continues unprecedented actions taken by dozens of Minnesota companies since the coronavirus hit the U.S. And in Mandle’s mind, the offer of help was necessary.
The Medical Alley Association, a trade group representing hundreds of companies in Minnesota’s powerful, broad-based medical technology sector, had knowledge and leadership to offer in the war against COVID-19. “We have not done this in the past,” Mandle said. “But we are going to do this going forward.”
Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha said his company’s government affairs office also has reached out to the Biden transition team. Medtronic, he said, has stayed in “constant touch” with the Trump administration since the pandemic hit the U.S. The company shared its methods for allocating products to serve as a model for distributing products in the public health crisis.
“We worked with competitors on new products,” Martha added. “We entered into all kinds of partnerships. We really worked with hospitals.”
Medtronic also upped production of ventilators for critically ill patients and made public some proprietary technology to allow erstwhile competitors to do the same.
Because of the work already done by Minnesota companies, Mandle wanted to make sure the Biden administration knew about the advances.
“We wanted to remind them that we have some of the best institutions in the nation,” he said.
Across the med tech spectrum, Minnesotans offered help to politicians and policymakers responsible for addressing the pandemic. Nonin made and distributed more of its pulse oximeters. Abbott, which owns St. Jude Medical, worked on testing for the virus.
Boston Scientific, one of the state’s larger employers, partnered with the University of Minnesota on ventilator innovations and donated a million face shields to protect health care workers.
Hillrom, which bases its respiratory health business in St. Paul, contributed noninvasive ventilators to the federal Strategic National Stockpile as well as to the state of New York, company vice president Howard Karesh said.
It also received an emergency use authorization to modify one of its respiratory devices with a filter to protect caregivers.
3M boosted production of N95 face masks in the U.S. and worked with law enforcement to help catch instances of fraud or price gouging.
The company also partnered with Ford to help that company produce respirators and worked with Nissha Medical Technologies to develop a face shield with anti-fog capabilities, spokesman Tim Post said.
Besides contributing valuable research and registering participants in a vaccine clinical trial, Mayo Clinic has been remotely monitoring patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms and other advances in treatments.
“Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Task Force involves 18 different work streams, each with numerous projects underway,” Dr. Andrew Badley, the task force’s chairman, said in a statement. Besides interventions and treatment advances, “we currently have 400 active research protocols on COVID-19 at Mayo Clinic.”