Abbott Laboratories to Eliminate Millions of Needles From the U.S. Healthcare System

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. -- Abbott Laboratories today announced that it will phase out by June 2003 all IV sets that contain or require needles, as part of the company's continued commitment to improving patient and healthcare worker safety. By no longer manufacturing and marketing these products, the company expects millions of needles to be eliminated from the U.S. healthcare system, further protecting healthcare workers against needlestick injury and blood exposure. Abbott will use a needle-free technology across its entire line of infusion therapy products.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 600,000 to 800,000 needlestick accidents occur each year among healthcare workers. These exposures can lead to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. With the preliminary treatment cost for a single needlestick incident estimated between $500 and $3,000, the industry faces yearly treatment costs upwards of nearly $1 billion dollars.

"Needles cause needlesticks. If you eliminate the needles, you eliminate the risk," said John Arnott, vice president, hospital business sector, Hospital Products Division, Abbott Laboratories. "For more than four decades, healthcare workers had little, if any, needle-free alternatives. Today, new technology allows us to provide innovative products that offer protection against needlestick injuries."

Julie Naunheim-Hipps, a nurse from Glendale, Mo., knows first hand the risks that needle-based products pose. In 1999, Julie contracted hepatitis C from a needlestick injury and has since been actively involved in passing state needlestick safety legislation.

"My injury may have been prevented had I had access to products designed to reduce needlesticks," said Naunheim-Hipps. "Abbott's decision to phase-out the use of needles in certain products is a major step forward in protecting health care workers. Needleless products also help hospitals comply with new federal needlestick protection regulation."

In November 2000, the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act was signed into law. The Act mandates stricter Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards requiring hospitals to record and evaluate needlestick injuries. It also calls for hospitals to use medical devices such as Abbott's needleless or protected needle products to help reduce health care worker injuries and illnesses caused by needlesticks.

In early 2001, OSHA revised the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard -- a directive that gives guidance to health care facilities regarding the implementation of safety standards for all workers exposed to bloodborne pathogens - to incorporate the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act. OSHA also mandated that all health care facilities covered under federal OSHA law must become compliant with the new regulations. Finally, the directive expressed that all states with State OSHA plans must have enforceable state legislation passed, or must have incorporated the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act into their own state OSHA plans.

Abbott has been at the forefront of providing products that offer protection against needlestick injuries. The LifeShield CLAVE Connector provides easy needle-free access and convenient drug delivery that is fast and efficient. The unique design of the CLAVE will not accept sharps or blunts of any kind. Abbott markets these products as part of its Needlestick Prevention Systems (NPS) product line - a system of integrated, coordinated products, which includes LifeShield Prepierced Reseal and CLAVE connectors; LifeShield, Carpuject and Ansyr prefilled syringes; VanishPoint retractable syringes and blood collection devices; ADD-Vantager System for drug delivery; FirstChoice Premixes; and the CLC2000 needleless catheter patency device.

For more than a decade, Abbott has taken a proactive approach to improving patient and healthcare worker safety. This past July, Abbott launched a needlestick prevention Web site, www.abbottnps.com, that provides healthcare providers with information on current needlestick prevention legislation as well as educational information about preventing needlestick injuries. Abbott also completed its initiative to affix bar codes to all of its hospital injectables and IV solutions product lines. As part of that campaign, Abbott also became the first company to use a new technology, Reduced Space Symbology (RSS) - which allows for a miniaturized bar code to be applied to single-unit containers as small as a pen cap - commercially on its hospital injectable pharmaceuticals and IV products.

In addition, Abbott pioneered the availability of premixed solutions and prefilled syringes to minimize mixing and handling errors, and has been at the forefront of providing products that protect against needlestick injuries. Abbott also has a long-running label enhancement program, and was the first company to print on the backside of IV containers, allowing clinicians to see critical information on both sides of the container. Through continued funding and support, Abbott has made it possible for hundreds of health care professionals to complete continuing medical education programs on the subject of medication error reduction.

Abbott Laboratories is a global, broad-based healthcare company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals, nutritionals and medical products, including devices and diagnostics. The company employs more than 70,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.

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