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As originally asked by Yash Khanna.
Last year, Kaiser Permanente announced a move away from IV medical equipment made from PVC and DEHP; the latter being a plasticizer.
I am interested in learning more about the rationale and the story.
I know DEHP has been reported to have adverse effects on human health but there are alternative FDA approved plasticizers. Similarly, PVC resin itself has issues with incineration but still it remains the 3rd most widely used plastic in the world.
Also surprisingly, Kaiser Permanente indicates a $5M annual savings from the use of PVC alternatives.
In talking to suppliers of PVC based products, it appears that the move away from PVC is not clear, yet. Moreover, the alternate/replacement products are thought to be more expensive than PVC. So, being new to the field, I am just trying to understand if PVC replacement is happening and if so, at what pace. Moreover, where does the $5M annual savings come from ? Are the replacement products cheaper ? What are the replacement products ? Any update from the EXPERTS will be helpful in understanding the story.
If a company is so inclined to find alternative materials, there are many. I have 9 patents on PVC alternative materials and several are currently being used. Others non-PVC materials have been developed, qualified as suitable replacement materials but remain on reserve in case a company were to need them. All these materials would add both material costs as well as manufacturing costs to any new medical device because from what I understand, there is nothing as cost effective as PVC nor is there any material as easily made into liquid containers or tubing sets as PVC. With added manufacturing complexities, even though reliable products can be made, there us usually added manufacturing costs.
I have long questioned the Kaiser Permanente claims of savings even though looking at the entire product use life cycle, differences in weight of PVC vs olefins favors non-PVC, cost of disposal, PVC is often more expensive to incinerate, and other savings inherant to non-PVCs I still cannot reconcile the numbers and find how there can be any savings.
At the PMD 2013 conference in Boston ([http://www.plasticsnews.com/pmd2013|leo://plh/http%3A*3*3www%2Eplasticsnews%2Ecom*3pmd2013/fbC6?_t=tracking_disc]) in 2 weeks, I will chair a panel discussion on this topic and hope that our panelists, especially Janet Brown, our friend from Healthier Hospitals Initiative can shed some light on this complicated matter.
As I tell my clients, I can give you a good product with any of a number of materials. I have no vested interest in PVC. But I will give you the facts before you make your decision.
Ole Grøndahl Hansen
In view of the importance of this subject and the strong discussion we had here, we are searching for an expert who can address PROS & CONS of the PVC alternate materials at our JUNE 26-28 conference in San Francisco. Any recommendations will be truly appreciated; for details visit
In reviewing all the feedback, it is very clear that PVC is hard to beat in either COST or PERFORMANCE.
It would have been very informative for KAISER PERMANENTE to comment on how they save $5M a year by replacing PVC. Comments by other institution(s) who replace PVC for Performance or Cost reasons, will be TRULY WELCOME at this point.
ROBERT W. ANASTASIA
It’s hard to make a case to replace PVC in products like tubing sets when it’s used for long term storage of human blood.
The value of DEHP-PVC lies within the combination of mechanical and barrier functional properties, coupled with the ease of fabrication, and the relatively low cost . Despite this there have been moves to try and replace DEHP-PVC with alternative materials that display similar, if not identical functional characteristics. However, the oxygen permeability coefficient in DEHP-PVC, which extends platelet stability in blood bags, is difficult to replicate in other polymers. Despite this, other materials including some non-DEHP plasticized PVC formulations, and other polymers including polyethylenes, silicones, and polyurethanes would be suitable for most medical applications . Specifically, the primary materials sought to replace DEHP-PVC are, ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyesters, polyolefin’s, silicone elastomers and certain polyurethanes. However, because of lack of mechanical properties and material processibility, some of these materials have not ‘caught on’ with medical device manufacturers. Despite this, some materials, such as silicone elastomers and polyurethane thermoplastic elastomers, have found some clinical use. Both silicone elastomers and polyurethane thermoplastic elastomers have more acceptable properties and can be used for nasogastric tubes, venous and arterial canals and other tubing.
5. Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly-Identified Health Risks. Medical Devices Containing DEHP Plasticized PVC; Neonates and Other Groups Possibly at Risk from DEHP Toxicity. 2002. Web. <[http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_014.pdf|leo://plh/http%3A*3*3ec%2Eeuropa%2Eeu*3health*3ph_risk*3committees*304_scenihr*3docs*3scenihr_o_014%2Epdf/wLYB?_t=tracking_disc]>.
There is pressure to switch to a different plasticizer because of the negative perception. It can really only effect infants in critical care, when it comes to tubing in contact with the blood for a long period of time. However, most disposable companies are moving away from DEHP to protect current and future sales, in case a law does get passed in the next few years.
Hope this gives you some added insight.
At our upcoming conference on Medical Polymers / Plastics,
Ole Grøndahl Hansen
Ole Grøndahl Hansen
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