* Potential market size for closed syringes almost $1 bln a
* Closed syringes can cost 100 times more than regular
By Tova Cohen
TEL AVIV, April 17 Israeli medical device maker
Equashield expects its sales to grow by more than 60 percent a
year as more hospitals invest in its sealed syringes to protect
healthcare workers from hazardous drugs and avoid lawsuits.
Equashield's products are used mainly in cancer or oncology
facilities to administer chemotherapy drugs.
"It started in the last decade when hospitals became aware
of problems and started looking for ways to protect themselves,"
Equashield's Georgian-born founder Marino Kriheli told Reuters.
"Using regular syringes or needles to transfer drugs from vials
to infusion bags and administer in regular ways left a lot of
drug residuals and exposures to leaks which are all very toxic."
The market for these closed system transfer devices began to
take off in 2011 when medical technology company Becton
Dickinson bought Carmel Pharma of Sweden and started
marketing its PhaSeal systems.
The potential market size for closed systems for hazardous
chemicals is close to $1 billion a year, Kriheli said.
The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health has said exposure to hazardous drug residue and vapours
puts healthcare workers at risk for skin rashes, miscarriage and
Industry magazine Pharmacy Practice News last month
estimated less than a third of hospitals use these closed
syringes, which can cost 100 times more than regular ones. But
the magazine said this year may be the tipping point for the
systems to gain more traction in U.S. hospitals.
Equashield began selling its system in 2010, which Kriheli
said "covers more roots of exposure" and prevents contamination
of the syringe plunger. It is now marketing a second-generation
product, described by Kriheli as more "idiot-proof" and easier
He said he expects company sales to reach $20-$30 million in
"Sales are growing by over 60 percent a year, and with our
second-generation product we believe the growth rate will be
even higher," Kriheli said.
Equashield is profitable and half its customers switched
from other systems, he added. Customers include the Cleveland
Clinic, Mount Sinai Hospital and The Animal Medical Center in
New York and the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.
Equashield is a spin-off of Plastmed, which manufactures
transfer devices for customers such as Johnson & Johnson.
The company plans to remain independent for now, said
Kriheli, who added: "At the moment, with the success we have, we
want to establish ourselves a little bit better".
(Reporting by Tova Cohen)