Covidien, a major medical device manufacturer, is closing a catheter extrusion plant in Argyle, NY as it continues an aggressive drive to reduce costs through facility consolidation and offshoring.
Slightly more than 180 employees will be affected by the closing, which will be completed by the end of June, according to a statement posted on the New York Department of Labor Web site this week. Company officials did not respond to a request for comment this morning.
Argyle, which is located north of Albany, NY near the Vermont border, anchors an area called "Catheter Alley" and is home to Precision Extrusion, a C.R. Bard plant, and AngioDynamics. Disposable catheters were invented by David S. Sheridan in Argyle in the 1940s. Sheriden, who held more than 50 medical device patents, died in 2004. The Los Angeles Times has called the Argyle area "the catheter capital of the world".
The plastic extruded catheters invented by Sheridan after World War II replaced reusable catheters produced from strands of cotton braided around piano wire molds, then varnished, heated, ground down and polished.
It's not clear where Covidien plans to produce the extruded catheters, but a web site is currently advertising Covidien job openings at five sites in Ireland, including a plant in Tullamore that does extrusion and molding of medical plastics.