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Hyde-Smith encourages FDA to approve ventilator created at UMMC

Dr. Charles Robertson, assistant professor of anesthesiology, has built ventilators to use at the Medical Center in case of a shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy of UMMC

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith is encouraging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the use of a cost-effective ventilator developed by a doctor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At less than $100 per unit, Dr. Charles M. Robertson developed the ventilators with materials that can be found at most hardware stores or online. In a letter to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Hyde-Smith asked the agency to use its ‘Emergency Use Authorization’ authority to approve Dr. Robertson’s application for the ‘Robertson Ventilator’ (RV1).

“The approval of the RV1 would allow UMMC and other healthcare facilities to use the device in emergencies, potentially saving lives,” Hyde-Smith wrote in her letter to Hahn.

“Easy to assemble, this ventilator is cost-efficient with a total cost of less than $100 per ventilator.  Furthermore, UMMC has demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the ventilator for use during emergencies through testing in its research laboratories under broad physiologic conditions and lung pathologies,” the Senator wrote.

In early April, UMMC had built 170 RV1 units – doubling the facilities supply of ventilators – which could be used in the event of a shortage. 

According to Hyde-Smith, as part of the national response to the COVID-19 health care emergency, the FDA has exercised its EUA authority to allow the use of new medical products in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions.

Hyde-Smith praised Robertson, an assistant professor of anesthesiology, and the team of UMMC certified registered nurse anesthetists who have produced the ventilators to augment the hospital’s supply.

“Mississippians are traditionally resilient in a crisis, and Dr. Robertson and the team at UMMC how we can also be innovative when the need arises,” Hyde-Smith said.  “I’m proud of their work and hope it can be reviewed quickly by the FDA.”

Robertson, a former Tupelo High School valedictorian and the son of a UMMC-trained pediatrician, returned to Mississippi in 2013 after earning his medical degree at the University of Virginia and completing his residency in St. Louis, Mo.  He performs pediatric anesthesia and sedation care at Batson Children’s Hospital.

·         For a copy of the Hyde-Smith letter, click here.

·         For more about Robertson’s RV1, click here.

·         For more about FDA emergency use authorizations, click here.

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