It's an uphill fight to replace PVC in medical tubing


Teknor Apex, one of the world's largest compounders of flexible PVC, is actively developing a PVC-free alternative for medical applications and already reports a handful of commercial applications in smaller sizes.

Replacing PVC in medical applications is a daunting task because of the low cost of PVC compounds, the large infrastructure in place for manufacturing the material, and the regulatory review process required.

Some would say it's also hard to match PVC's performance record.

"PVC has been the material of choice for flexible medical tubing and respiratory masks for more than 30 years because of its balance of cost and functional properties," Elliott Pritikin, senior medical market manager at Teknor Apex Co. (Pawtucket, RI) told in an interview.

To be sure, PVC remains strongly entrenched in medical applications.

But the drumbeat of negative publicity about PVC is ongoing and has led to increased efforts by some design engineers in the medical device community to explore alternatives. The Medical Device Directive in Europe requiring special labeling for all devices containing phthalate plasticizers coupled with a ban on children's products made using certain phthalates by the US Consumer Products Safety Commission has contributed to a bigger push in the medical design community....
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