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No plan in works to ban PVC: officials

Despite calls by environmental protection groups, the government has no plans to prohibit the use of medical plastic containers and tubes made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or detected with elements of the toxic chemical diphthalate (DEHP) for the intravenous (IV) infusion of medicinal fluids at hospitals.

Officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday stressed that for various reasons no prohibition is planned at present.

No countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan as well as European nations, have forbidden these products given their medical advantages, they said.

Advanced nations have set no standards concerning the level of DEHP, also known as a plasticizer, in these products.

They explained that products made of these materials have distinct benefits, including high levels of flex, softness and durability. They also have a reduced possibility of puncturing stuffing or blocking.

Banning such comparatively low-cost products would immediately boost medical costs for both patients and Taiwan's national health insurance system, they said.

However, the FDA has already started implementing a system this year requiring suppliers to clearly provide information about the PVC and DEHP materials included in such products, said the officials. This is to ensure medical workers and patients are informed.

The FDA will ask manufactures and suppliers of these products to present more detailed information about the possible risks to patients. This includes potential problems during invasive medical treatments, as well as the possible negative impact of continued contact with the products.

The FDA will also closely monitor policies adopted or considered by the U.S. FDA and international medical and health groups like the World Health Organization, they said.

Some lawmakers, environmental protection groups, and other organizations have repeatedly urged the DOH to ban IV bags and tubes made of PVC and DEHP materials because of possible health hazards.

The government has long banned toxic plasticizer for use in foods and beverages for public health.

A few unscrupulous businesspeople have been sentenced recently with long imprisonment terms for breaking the regulations outlawing plasticizer in food items.

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