Disease and Profits: Plastic Use Expected to Rise in Medical Devices

Jane Akre
October 31, 2012

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, October 31, 2012 ~ As the baby boomer population increases in the U.S., expect the use of polypropylene plastic to grow for use in medical devices.

That according to an obscure website called plastemart.com (here) says it “covers the entire spectrum of the plastics supply chain” from the raw material to manufacturers.

The company is based in Mumbai, India, and sells plastics to Yamaha, Honda, Mazda and other car makers as well as medical device makers.

An article on the site says with the increasing average age of Americans there is created a “vast market” for medical treatment, especially minimally invasive procedures. That boosts the use of plastic polymers which are ideal for use as tubes and catheters.

The blog is referring to an August report from business consultant, Frost & Sullivan (here) that says the use of plastics in the U.S. are expected to equal $1.45 billion by the year of 2018, which represents annual growth of 5.2 percent.

“Commodity plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) accounted for most of the total volume.” They are valued because they are flexible, durable, and light weight.

On the flip side, the article says that polymers present a concern because of their degradability and recyclability, but “this environmental issue has not reached a critical state.”

What goes unsaid is the biocompatibility of plastics with the human body when they are used in a permanent implant.

Mesh Is Not Inert

Dr. Donald Ostergard

Last November, MDND reported on Dr. Donald Ostergard, the past president of the American Urogynecologic Society, who said that mesh is not inert.

In the context of mesh kits, Dr. Ostergard said information has been accumulating since the 1950s that mesh is not inert- it can incite an inflammatory or foreign body response, can attract bacteria, and can shrink, among other problems.

See background story here.

The Frost & Sullivan  article says the FDA’s “regulatory uncertainty” has begun to hinder the medical device industry’s growth even though the U.S. enjoys a positive trade surplus, meaning it exports more than it imports. #

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