Like many polymers, polyether block amide (PEBA) copolymers can degrade over time, which may lead to functional failure. This is especially problematic in medical applications, notably in catheters. To prevent degradation of stored devices caused by exposure to heat, light, or other environmental factors, Foster Corp. (Putnam, CT), a supplier of custom polymers for medical devices, has introduced heat- and light-stabilized PEBA copolymers. Foster's HLS formulations are manufactured from medical-grade Pebax polymers and USP Class VI–compliant additives for use in medical device applications such as vascular catheters.
"Shelf life is a necessary consideration for regulatory approval and commercial sale of medical devices," Foster Corp. CEO Larry Acquarulo told PlasticsToday. "Catheters are highly flexible devices that may lose critical properties in storage over time. Degradation is of greater concern for catheters that are expected to be in storage for longer periods of time or exposed to excessive light and heat," he added. Consequently, Foster has developed a targeted stabilizer system that can both decompose and neutralize the free radicals created by exposure to oxygen, heat, and UV light that would otherwise initiate the loss of polymer properties.