Equashield is a provider of the world’s safest Closed System Transfer Devices (CSTD), clinically proven to protect healthcare professionals from hazardous drug and vapour exposure. Marino Kriheli, Equashield co-founder, explains why the company’s flagship device, EQUASHIELD® II, is the fastest CSTD to deploy and easiest to use. He claims theirs also is the only truly closed device on the market, covering more routes of exposure than alternative systems and protecting against exposure to hazardous drug residue on contaminated syringe plungers.
Mr. Kriheli explains that Equashield is a spinoff company from Plastmed that was established in 2004 as a supplier of plastic devices to OEMs in the life sciences industry. One of their first clients was Johnson & Johnson. “We were fully compliant with FDA standards but for Johnson & Johnson, that wasn’t enough: they had even higher requirements so we had to adjust. That’s how we garnered the expertise to manufacture extremely complicated devices with the highest quality standards. We were very good at what we were doing but at some point concluded we needed a new challenge, and that’s when we started to make our own devices.” He adds that they identified closed system transfer devices as a niche within the growth market of medical safety. “There were closed systems on the market but they were difficult to use. Designing our own systems from scratch, we introduced the first preassembled closed syringe that requires no further setup, making it quicker and easier to use than other system on the market.”
The move to developing and making their own devices has clearly paid off for Equashield. At the start of 2014, the company announced that it has achieved 60% year-over-year sales growth for the fourth straight year in 2013. Their growth rate underscores growing awareness around Equashield’sclosed systems, says Mr. Kriheli. “Our devices reduce the risk of exposure for pharmacy technicians, pharmacists, nurses and other medical professionals who prepare and administer hazardous drugs, such as chemotherapy. In addition, the solution helps to prevent microbial ingress, decreasing the risk of infection in patients receiving these drugs. Approximately 20% of hospitals and medical centers are already investing in closed systems to ensure their employees’ safety.
With growing awareness of the many risks associated with hazardous drug exposure, this market is rapidly growing. In fact, 55% of new customers Equashield acquired last year did not use closed systems previously. Furthermore, with the recent launch of Equashield II, the company’s second generation CSTD, we expect major sales growth to continue in 2014 and beyond.” He adds that Equashield II covers more routes of exposure to hazardous drugs than alternative systems and is the only system that prevents contamination of syringe plungers by hazardous drugs. “Contamination on syringe plungers has been clearly identified in recent studies. The quantities of drug residue found on plungers place this route of exposure among the top risks associated with handling hazardous drugs.” Interesting to note in that regard is that the Journal of Oncology Pharmacy Practice recently published the results from a comparative study of Equashield’s Closed System Transfer Device (EQUASHIELD®) versus Becton Dickinson (BD) (NYSE: BDX) syringes with the PhaSeal closed system. The study found that BD’s syringe plunger allowed repeatedly for high levels of syringe plunger contamination by hazardous drugs under routine drug preparation conditions, while EQUASHIELD® results demonstrated undetectable concentrations of contamination.
This makes EQUASHIELD® the only available transfer device proven to protect medical professionals from plunger contamination. The study, entitled “Syringe plunger contamination by hazardous drugs: A comparative study,” was performed at the Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit. Stephen T. Smith and Mark C. Szlaczky, RPh, PharmD, performed comparative contamination level tests of 60ml BD syringe plungers with PhaSeal CSTD versus the 60ml EQUASHIELD® syringe plungers.
Each syringe had Cyclophosphamide (a typical toxic chemotherapy drug) drawn in and expelled repeatedly under conditions of routine pharmacy compounding and transfer procedures. ChemoGlo™, a specialised third-party laboratory, tested the 48 containers with wipe samples in its laboratory at detection level sensitivity of 10 ng and found BD syringes were contaminated in significant measures compared with undetectable contamination in the EQUASHIELD® syringe plungers. The BD syringes use a standard open syringe barrel with a regular four rib plunger structure, common to most single use syringe systems.
To prevent plunger contamination, EQUASHIELD® has a thin metal rod plunger and an encapsulated syringe barrel with an airtight seal. “Like in previous studies, this study again found high contamination levels on the standard BD syringe plungers a fact that suggests that Cyclophosphamide infiltrates the BD plungers during use of these syringes even with CSTDs. This poses a significant route of exposure to hazardous drugs that can contaminate an entire work area,” Mr. Kriheli explains. “Equashield’s solution, on the other hand, has been clinically proven to prevent this contamination and create a safer environment for pharmacy personnel and nurses, as well as patients and their families.”