ROSWELL, Ga. Â- Kimberly-Clark Health Care announced today that it will be shifting the production of exam gloves from latex to synthetic alternatives over the next four to 18 months.Â The company made this business decision in support of the growing customer demand for synthetic solutions such as its latest glove offering, STERLING* Nitrile, and its market-leading PURPLE NITRILE* Exam Gloves, and in response to unprecedented increases in the cost of latex raw materials.
Since 2002, virtually every aspect of the exam glove manufacturing supply chain has incurred significant cost increases.Â The latex category has been especially affected with raw materials costs increasing over 300 percent since 2002.Â In addition, energy costs have increased 274 percent during that same period.Â
Kimberly-Clark Health Care President Joanne Bauer says that cost and supply issues combined with increased demand for protective products related to pandemic preparedness efforts are creating a radical change in the dynamics of the glove business, forcing manufacturers to reconsider production and supply strategies.
Over time, increased costs in latex raw materials will be passed along to our customers; we do not see any macroeconomic trends to suggest otherwise, Bauer says. As this happens, high-quality, synthetic alternatives to latex, which do not sacrifice worker and patient safety, will continue to become more affordable, removing cost as the last significant barrier to changing to a latex-free system. We are committed to delivering on our brand promise of eliminating caregivers worries about using products that could potentially compromise their health or put their patients at risk of adverse outcomes.
In January 2006, the company officially introduced STERLING* Nitrile, its latest synthetic examination glove innovation, as the ideal alternative for facility-wide conversion away from latex gloves. The healthcare community recognizes the profound implications of latex, and we have worked diligently to develop a synthetic glove that combines the dexterity and sensitivity of latex with the strength and superior barrier protection qualities of nitrile, said John Amat, vice president of sales and marketing, Kimberly-Clark Health Care. Through a combination of proprietary materials and manufacturing processes, we have been able to develop this superior glove and offer it at a great overall value.
Amat said that the availability of a better alternative to latex in terms of both comfort and pricing helps to make a compelling case for facilities to use latex-free solutions. We continually look for alternate materials that are, in general, safer for use by caregivers and can help facilities mitigate the effects of rising raw materials, energy and transportation costs that are all reflected in manufacturers pricing, Â said Amat. Kimberly-Clark is known for superior quality, not for being the lowest-priced provider, and were not going to compromise that or our brand. Through innovations like STERLING* Nitrile Exam Gloves, we can pass along to our customers efficiencies in our manufacturing processes and finally offer a solution to the marketplace that leaves little room for debating the benefits of being latex-free.