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1 March 2002 News Update


A hypodermic syringe with a retractable needle has been developed by the UK company Medisys in response to new United States laws to protect medical staff from the risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis infection.

Non-safety needles may have blood-borne pathogens on them which can transmit serious infections. Efforts to protect healthcare workers from potentially fatal needle-stick injuries have increased tremendously in recent years with more and more US states introducing legislation for the use of safety needles in all hospitals and healthcare facilities.

It is estimated that 800,000 needle-stick injuries occur in the US every year and more than 100,000 in the UK. The injuries are caused by various types of needles - hypodermic, blood collection, intravenous and suture.

The US laws are likely to be replicated in Japan, Singapore and possibly other countries including the UK.

Medisys' Futura syringes have an automatic retractable needle and are expected to be on the market later this year. The one and three cubic centimetre syringes with various needle gauges are likely to generate sales of about 30 million pounds sterling annually.

When the hypodermic's plunger is fully depressed the needle retracts into the syringe virtually eliminating any type of inadvertent needle stick. The retractable technology is the core of the company's innovative safety development measures which are also exploited in a number of other products.

They include a safety catheter which also has a retractable needle mechanism and is expected to be on the market in about 18 months' time. Medisys, which acquired a US diabetic testing company in 2001, is now in the process of restructuring its operations into syringe manufacturing and diabetes diagnosis. Market analyses forecast a two billion pound market for safety syringes of which Medisys may well acquire up to half in the next decade.

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