More than a label: Recognition of eco-friendly catheter development

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The team from Wellspect Healthcare explain how much the catheters and stents market has moved on as the company says its LoFric product is the first eco-labelled catheter. 

How much has the catheters market moved on since the launch of LoFric in 1983?

At the time LoFric was launched in 1983, intermittent catheterisation was primarily in place for individuals who suffered from spinal cord injuries (SCI) or for children with spina bifida. Thanks to ongoing innovation, intermittent catheters have over the past four decades attracted additional consumer segments. The ease of use of clean intermittent catheterisation as well as its limited complications makes it an ideal choice for people with other symptoms and conditions. Intermittent catheterisation is for instance widely used today by individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) or enlarged prostate.

To put it differently, we have seen a substantial growth of the urinary catheter market over the past decades which is likely to continue into the foreseeable future. Current market research estimates that the global urinary catheter market has an annual growth rate somewhere between 4-6%. 

What notable developments have been made in terms of manufacturing and material use of catheters?

LoFric revolutionised the urinary catheter market with its pre-lubricated surface. With LoFric, using an intermittent catheter became a simpler process, devoid of the application of lubricant gels. Users merely needed to apply water to the hydrophilic catheter and self-catheterise. 

The next breakthrough came in the mid-nineties. It saw the introduction of saline solution sachets in a single intermittent catheter package. The sachets enabled catheter users to self-catheterise anytime and anywhere. Access to clean tap water and sterilising material became a distant memory. 

More recent developments have related to the material the catheters are produced of. Up to 2009, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) represented the primary material of catheters. Nowadays, POBE, (polyolefin-based elastomer) is free of DEHP, PVC, plastic softeners, and latex. It combines very good physical characteristics with an exceptionally good environmental performance. 

Producing more sustainable catheters that leave a smaller environmental impact - without compromising the performance of the product and the user experience– is the next big thing. Consumers are becoming more aware of their role in making choices that translate into reduced environmental impact. As companies, irrespective of the industries we are in, we are all having to step up our game. Wellspect has certainly done that. Long before it became fashionable to do so.

How significant is it for you to receive the Nordic ecolabel?

With LoFric, Wellspect has always had a competitive edge. The ecolabelling adds to it of course as consumers can now make choices that see a reduction of their environmental footprint. Broadly speaking, the ecolabelling is a testimony to us working in the right direction. Wellspect aims to become climate neutral by 2045 and to becoming an industry lead in sustainability. We still have a long way to go but we are on the right path. A lot of work has gone into the Nordic Swan ecolabel license. The licensing process is complex and includes verification of adherence to strict criteria such as material choices, manufacturing processes and chemical substances in the product. The ecolabelling is therefore also an endorsement of us having successfully controlled all the different processes that contribute to creating an environmentally superior product.

There are different definitions of sustainability, how do you define it, and how are you planning to achieve your goals?

You are so right. Sustainability has become a buzzword, oftentimes wrongfully equated to solely reducing our environmental impact. Embedded in most definitions of sustainability, you also have though the notions of social equity and economic development. At Wellspect, we have formulated three focus areas in which we want to be recognised as sustainability leader within our industry; 1) good health and wellbeing, 2) safe, committed, and inspiring workplace and 3) reduced environmental footprint. 

We have set targets for all three areas and have actionable plans in place to reach these targets. To give you an example, we have a program in place that sees to the integration of sustainability in everything we do, be it at the production sites or in our offices. As a result of this program, sustainability has become a part of our overall business strategy. Our employees think in more sustainable ways and even have sustainability goals in their individual development plans. Our approach is to make science-based decisions that are sustainable over time. 

This article was originally published on MedTech

For additional information, please contact: 
Maria Lundbäck, Head of Corporate Marketing Communication, +46 702 811 763,