Looking Back at a Successful 2017 and Looking Forward to Excitement – A Multi-Blog Series

As we move into a new year, we at PMG have enjoyed looking back at the accomplishments of the societies we manage in 2017.  At PMG our mission is simple.  We exist to help our clients achieve their mission.  We are proud of the progress each organization has made in achieving their goals.  There is too much good being done not to share!  So, over the next few weeks we will be posting blogs about the interesting programs and endeavors each of our societies is undertaking.  Below is a snapshot of the work of two of our organizations who focus on women’s health.  With the assistance of our outstanding staff, these Boards are advancing their missions and improving the overall health of women and their babies.

Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS)

OTIS is working hard in the field of teratology to ensure that the public and health care providers have the most up-to-date information on exposures in order to help individuals make informed decisions while pregnant or during breastfeeding.  In 2017, the organization has been fortunate to receive funding for two important projects and to begin work on an exciting new project. All of these align and help us work towards the OTIS mission of “providing evidence-based information to mothers, health care professionals, and the general public about medications and other exposures during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.”

First, we are thrilled that we have received six more years of funding from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). We are working with HRSA to expand upon the Maternal and Child Environmental Health Network (MCEHN) to decrease maternal and child morbidity and mortality associated with pre-and post-natal environmental exposures. OTIS supports a network of national and regional teratogen information service (TIS) centers which cover the 10 HRSA Regions, provide research data, and answer consumer and provider exposure inquiries related to drugs, environmental toxins, household products, vaccines, medications, herbal products, infections, and maternal medical conditions before and during pregnancy, as well as during breastfeeding. OTIS provides free and confidential services to all women of reproductive age, but with a strong emphasis on those in the vulnerable population including the following hard-to-reach communities: migrant workers, non-English speaking women, teenage young women, those with a household income of less than $25,000 annually, those who have less education than a high school degree, and those without health insurance. OTIS will ensure that the network is reaching these women in a variety of formats including in-person consultations, telephone, chat, email, mobile app, website and text services. These women are reached through the system of extensive outreach that OTIS has developed over the past 30 years, as well as by continuing to forge strong collaborations with stakeholder partners. Finally, with help from the HRSA funding, OTIS continues to respond to urgent inquiries and health issues rapidly by quickly compiling scientific data and expertise and disseminating that information to the public, providers, and government agencies when needed.

Secondly, OTIS has received a second year of funding through the March of Dimes which is supporting the CDC NCBDDD’s project ’Communication, Outreach, Collaboration, and Prevention Activities to Support CDC’s Response to Zika Virus and Adverse Pregnancy’. OTIS works with the CDC and the March of Dimes to support the ongoing dissemination of current and emerging Zika virus and adverse birth outcomes education and prevention information to the public and health care providers and to also provide a forum to address Zika virus, teratogens exposure, and pregnancy concerns from the public and health care providers. We provide support of this program by using our toll-free national helplines (phone, email, text or chat) in order to answer queries from the public and health care providers, referring all interested parties to CDC websites and resources, and providing monthly updates and having regular meetings with the CDC and MOD.

Finally, OTIS is starting a new venture in 2018 that will help the pharmaceutical companies develop their new labels in accordance with the new Pregnancy and Lactation Labeling Rule (PLLR) as required by the FDA. PLLR implementation has created an urgent need for current, comprehensive reviews of existing data and summaries of fetal risks for thousands of prescription medications that fall under the PLLR timeline over the next five years. In addition, the PLLR calls for background data on pregnancy risks associated with the underlying disease(s) that the medications are being used to treat, when it is available.  Few diseases have such information so there is a need to generate background risk data that, once agreed on, can be included in labeling for all products used to treat the same maternal disease. OTIS is working to fill a role in providing expert consultation to pharma to produce these reviews and provide consistency across therapeutic areas regarding background risks to properly label and inform the public about these medications. This expert consultation service will involve a collaboration with the existing systems to improve efficiency and consistency by building on the current infrastructure for reference abstraction and review.

The Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health

The mission of the Marcé Society is to promote, facilitate and communicate the research of its members into all aspects of the mental health of women, their infants and partners around the time of childbirth. This involves a broad range of research activities ranging from basic science through to health services research.

One of the key initiatives for 2016-2018 is to increase the global reach of the Society and connect people who work and advocate for perinatal mental health in the world’s low- and middle-income countries with those in high income countries. To address this need and respond to feedback from Marcé members, the board developed a pilot program to offer a new appropriate and attainable level of membership to the countries designated by the World Bank in categories B though E. Perinatal mental health professionals who share the mission of the Marcé Society are invited to join the Society for an annual subscription of USD 20, 30% off the basic membership rate.

For reference, in 2016 there were thirteen members in total from the 138 countries designated as low and middle income by the World Bank. After offering the reduced membership rate, there are 39 members from these countries. Benefits to the society and its members include:

  • Increasing opportunities for global members to learn from lessons and experience of those working in maternal mental health in low and middle-income countries.
  • Extending the reach of existing Marcé expertise to under-resourced settings.
  • Increasing opportunities for global collaborations in research.

The program will continue its development in 2018 with the goal of increasing membership from around the world.  The Society is also looking forward to their 2018 biennial meeting being held in September in Bangalore, India.

Stay tuned to the PMG blog for more impressive work of the societies we manage in the coming weeks.