Georgia governor's attempt to close sterilization plant could lead to critical medical device shortages, AdvaMed says

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is trying to shut down a medical device sterilization plant over concerns the plant emits a cancer-causing gas, but the device industry is pushing back, arguing that the closure could lead to shortages of critical medical supplies, according to CBS 46.

A judge is scheduled to hear arguments Oct. 28 over an emergency injunction request filed by Mr. Kemp to temporarily shut down the Becton Dickinson sterilization plant in Covington, Ga. Mr. Kemp is concerned the plant emits a cancer-causing gas called ethylene oxide, which is often used to sterilize medical devices.

Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group Advanced Medical Technology Association, which represents 97 percent of the country's medical devicemakers, claims medical procedures are in jeopardy if the plant closes. Previous closures of Sterigenics plants in Cobb County, Ga., and Willowbrook, Ill., have already caused device shortages that would be worsened by another closure.

The closure could cause shortages of catheters, feeding tubes, IV units, surgical kits and surgical trays, Greg Crist, a spokesman for AdvaMed told CBS 46. AdvaMed CEO Scott Whitaker said in a news release that more than 1 billion medical devices are at risk.

"Gov. Kemp's attempt to shut down another medical device sterilization plant in the state is very alarming and sets Georgians and many Americans down a potentially dangerous path with serious public health consequences," Mr. Whitaker said.

Because of the plant closures over ethylene oxide concerns, devicemakers are trying to find new ways to sterilize devices. Mr. Crist told CBS 46 they are looking at "cycle optimization," which reduces the amount of times devices are exposed to ethylene oxide.

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