Plastic shortage restricts medical device supply

Medical manufacturers warn the rising cost of raw materials such as plastic can hinder hospital supply, Bloomberg reported July 5. 

Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter International, a healthcare device manufacturer that makes products such as hospital beds, syringes and intensive care unit patient monitoring systems, notified hospitals in April of a shortage of valve sets. Baxter said the main issue is a shortage of resin, a component in plastic, because of high costs. 

"We can't make our normal amount because we don't have enough resin," Baxter spokesperson Lauren Russ told Bloomberg. "Resin has been something we've been keeping a close eye on for several months now, and seeing a general tightening supply globally."

The executive director for clinical supply chain at the Cleveland Clinic, Steve Pohlman, told Bloomberg the resin shortage was affecting products used for blood collection and lab products in June but wasn't affecting patient care. 

Supply chain disruptions similar to this one have plagued healthcare providers for years, with COVID-19 and other global turmoils compounding the already unsteady industry. Boston-based Northeastern University mechanical and industrial engineering professor Jacqueline Griffin, PhD, told Becker's part of the problem is not enough transparency. 

"Typically, the information about the supply chains of where the raw materials originally come in from, how things flow, [and] sometimes what manufacturing capacity even exists is typically held as a competitive secret or a competitive advantage, and therefore it's not really shared," Dr. Griffin said. "We don't have a real vision for what our resiliency or lack of resiliency looks like."

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