NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

An Early Casualty In The Anti-PVC Crusade

April 7, 1999

Under pressure from anti-chemical activists and others, Baxter International -- one of the largest manufacturers of intravenous (IV) health care products -- has agreed to develop and produce IV systems that do not use polyvinyl chloride plastic tubes and bags.

PVCs have become a favorite target of Greenpeace and other self- styled environmental groups, despite the lack of any scientific evidence that they cause harm to humans.

  • The agreement followed discussions between Baxter and a group of Roman Catholic and labor union shareholders -- including the pension fund manager of the Service Employees International Union.
  • The advocacy groups, which include Health Care Without Harm, own about 100,000 shares of Baxter stock.-- and had threatened to introduce a resolution at the upcoming annual shareholders' meeting ordering Baxter to phase out vinyl IVs.
  • They also filed a similar resolution on behalf of shareholders of Abbott Laboratories -- also a manufacturer of vinyl intravenous equipment.
  • Abbott opposed the proposal and defended the products -- saying through a spokeswoman that PVCs had been shown to be safe for more than 25 years.

Source: Milt Freudenheim, "Maker of IV System to Stop Using a Plastic," New York Times, April 7, 1999.


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