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Advances in medical polymers

Source:Ringier Plastics

Date Published:2/19/2015 09:02:32 AM

Increasing substitution of conventional materials such as glass and metals in medical devices by high performance polymers, such as PVC and polypropylene, coupled with growing demand for medical devices from the fast developing Asian healthcare market is expected to drive medical polymer demand over the next six years

The global market for medical polymers is expected to reach $17.05 billion by 2020, according to a study by Grand View Research, Inc. Increasing substitution of conventional materials such as glass and metals in medical devices by high performance polymers, such as PVC and polypropylene, coupled with growing demand for medical devices from the fast developing Asian healthcare market is expected to drive medical polymer demand over the next six years. In addition, growing geriatric population is expected to further boost the demand for polymer based devices in minimally invasive surgeries resulting in increased demand for medical polymers.

Devices and equipment were the largest application markets. Growing medical tourism due to low cost labour and advanced facilitates in emerging healthcare destinations of India, China, Malaysia and Singapore is expected to have positive impact on the market over the forecast period. The study also estimates that medical polymer demand, which reached 4,901.1 kilo tonnes in 2013, is expected to reach 7,149.8 kilo tonnes by 2020, growing at 5.6% annually from 2014 to 2020.

Packaging applications are projected to witness the fastest growth, at about 6% from 2014 to 2020. Packaging of syringes, tablets and other drugs takes place using polymers due to superior properties such as low weight, application specific performance and biodegradability which is expected to drive demand in this application.

Intensified commitment to health care

Many developments in materials and processing technologies are geared towards serving the needs and objectives of the medical sector for safety and efficient delivery. Companies in the plastics industry are on the forefront of these developments as they intensify R&D to meet the growing demand for high performance medical plastics. Borealis and Borouge, leading providers of innovative, value-creating plastics solutions, are promoting their Bormed™ concept with a focus on the recently-launched innovative specialty polypropylene (PP) grades, Bormed SC876CF and Bormed HJ875MO. The excellent functional properties of these two commercial grades further enhance the appeal of the Bormed polyethylene (PE) and PP grade range for the healthcare industry.

Following on the heels of the K Fair 2013 launch of Bormed SB815MO, this most recent expansion of the Bormed portfolio signals Borealis and Borouge's continuing commitment to providing reliable and global supply, superior service and fulfilment of the most stringent conformance criteria in healthcare products. By combining cutting-edge technological expertise with insights gained through cooperation and feedback from the healthcare market, Borealis and Borouge have developed new Bormed grades accompanied by the dedicated Bormed support package and long-term security of supply.

Bormed SC876CF is a soft, yet tough PP with a flexural modulus of 330 MPa and a melting  temperature of 149°C. This EU and US Pharmacopeia compliant grade offers excellent thermal and optical stability during and after steam sterilisation cycle and provides excellent balance of high toughness at low temperature. The material allows for cost optimisation in polyolefin (PO) film and tubing formulation thanks to potentially significant reduction in the use of impact modifiers (e.g. SEBS). It further safeguards performance and reliability of pharmaceutical packaging.

The main target applications of Bormed SC876CF are as components for the core layers in co-extruded film structures used in pharmaceutical primary packaging (IV bags, continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis pouch systems), secondary packaging and in films for medical device packaging. This latest grade has already garnered extensive positive performance feedback from Borealis and Borouge customers around the world.

The recently-launched Bormed HJ875MO high-flow PP homopolymer has an MFR (melt flow rate) of 75 and offers good stiffness for moulding applications. Produced using cutting edge Borealis Sirius Catalyst Technology and without animal derived additives, this EU and US Pharmacopeia - compliant grade is particularly suited for applications requiring low extractables and/or minimum interaction with filling substances such as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) plates, multi-well titre plates, pipette tips and more. As a step-change innovation in PP, Bormed SB815MO, the launch of this grade K-Fair was a prime example of cooperation along the entire value chain, with processing and sterilisation trials carried out in collaboration with Blow-Fill-Seal (BFS) OEMs. When using this grade in BFS applications, the potential reduction in sterilisation time can help reduce the amount of energy consumed.

"We are very excited about the significance of the expanded Bormed portfolio for the Borouge Middle East and Asian markets," states Ahmed Al Mehairi, Vice President Marketing Centre New Business Development, Borouge. "We continue to expand our dedicated range of Bormed grades in order to offer our customers even more choice when it comes to functionality and reliability in healthcare applications," explains Jane Toogood, Senior Vice President, New Business Development Borealis. "Our mission to innovate helps us remain at the forefront of healthcare trends."

Enhancing biocompatibility compliance

Interstate Plastics's appearance at the MD&M West Conference will highlight their extensive line of full and cut-to-size plastic sheet, rod, tube and accessories for industries including manufacturing and manufacturing equipment, engineering and design, as well as packaging and medical grade plastics. The company's medical grade plastics, which include Celcon®, Radel®, Tecanyl MT™, PEEK® and polypropylene are well suited for use in applications including trial heads and cups for hip implants, knee provisional trials and impactor applications and instrument handles.

Newest to the Interstate Plastics' medical product line is Propylux® HS coloured rod, exclusively produced by Westlake Plastics. Propylux HS rods are the material of choice for orthopedic applications due to the product's biocompatibility compliance, dimensional stability and chemical resistance. Propylux HS rods offer superior dimensional stability when processed through repeated 134°C autoclaving cycles. The product also exhibits exceptional chemical resistance to cleaning and disinfecting agents and offers a good balance of strength, ductility and overall toughness. These features make Propylux HS well suited for use in applications including trial heads and cups for hip implants, knee provisional trials and impactor applications. The Propylux HS product line consists of 15 colours and 13 diameters. All coloured materials are made with FDA compliant ingredients and the shaped rods have been tested and comply with key parts of ISO 10993.

Polymer coating for medical devices Biotectix, a developer of conductive coatings for medical devices that aim to optimise the communication between devices and physiologic systems, introduced a highly durable electroconductive polymer coating. The coating, called Amplicoat™, incorporates Photolink®, a proprietary surface modification technology developed by Eden Prairie, MN-based SurModics, Inc. Designed to enhance communication at the interface between human tissue and a medical device's electrode, Amplicoat overcomes the limitations of other conductive coatings, including poor durability, difficult processing requirements, and limited performance. The new coating can be easily applied to a variety of metal electrodes, providing an optimal solution for numerous medical-device applications, including neurostimulation, cardiac pacing, electrophysiology recordings, cochlear implants, and gastrointestinal recording and stimulation.

"Amplicoat is a true breakthrough technology that provides a durable electrode coating that conducts both ionically and electronically, resulting in lower impedance and an expanded range for safe charge delivery," said Dr. Sarah Richardson-Burns, who cofounded Biotectix with Jeff Hendricks, PhD. Amplicoat enables device electrode miniaturisation, offering higher numbers of electrodes for a given-sized lead or device and providing greater tissue-sensing resolution as well as more localised stimulation control. The coating enables higher signal fidelity, lower power requirements, and reduced stimulation thresholds. Biotectix is currently working with customers to incorporate Amplicoat into their medical devices. In addition, there are non-medical applications for conductive coatings, which are currently under development at Biotectix.

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