CEI Study Exposes Campaign Against Vinyl

CEI Study Exposes Campaign Against Vinyl

Activists Jeopardize Public Health, Affordable Medical Care, and Blood Supply
July 24, 2000

Washington, DC, July 24, 2000 – Continued access to critical, life-saving medical devices is at risk because of an activist agenda to ban vinyl, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) notes in a recent report, Poisonous Propaganda: Global Echoes of an Anti-Vinyl Agenda.  CEI challenges tactics like those employed last week by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) in its creative interpretation of the National Toxicology Program’s evaluation of vinyl.

HCWH is a coalition of activist groups, which seeks to ban polyvinyl chloride, or PVC.  PVC is used in 25 percent of all plastic medical devices, which include such things as vinyl tubing, gloves, and blood bags.  The US Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the World Health Organization, and numerous other scientific organizations have all declared PVC safe, and many of them note its critical life-saving benefits.

Last week, a National Toxicology Program panel found that the large majority of uses raised “minimal” to “negligible” concerns.  Yet in its usual slight of hand, HCWH skewed panel findings to raise public fears by hyping the panel’s expression of “serious concern” that vinyl products may harm reproductive organs of critically ill male infants when exposed to high levels of vinyl during intensive medical treatments.

Yet the panel explicitly attempted to avoid such misuse of that very finding, spending an afternoon working the report’s summary language to note that “the benefits of medical procedures can outweigh the risks.”  The summary also notes that human data was “limited but suggestive” – which in the world of science means not conclusive and represents more a call for additional research than a finding.

Because of the activists’ campaign, “medical-device manufacturers have come under pressure from shareholders to ban their very own life-saving medical products,” says Bill Durodié, author of the CEI study.  Such actions could have seriously adverse impacts such as contributing to impending blood shortages.  PVC is the only effective material for the storage of red blood cells because blood lasts twice as long in PVC bags than it does in any other container (such as glass or other plastics).

“These trends against vinyl medical products are quite disturbing given the potential impact on the quality of health care.  In addition to contributing to spiraling costs, an unwarranted rush to substitutes would negatively impact the health care system by diverting resources from real issues,” notes Durodié.

Copies of the study are available by clicking here or by contacting CEI.  CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010 or emcgee@cei.org.