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Petrochemicals to make medical devices see prices surge


March 25, 2020  


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By Renzo Pipoli / Petrochemical Update

Prices for chemicals that are used to make medical supplies such as syringes, catheters, beds as well as protective garments have surged amid overwhelming demand related to the coronavirus spread.

Even in cases where manufacturers of finished goods may choose not to increase prices, costs of medical devices will likely rise as intermediaries along the chain may raise prices on their own.

Some producers of fluoropolymers, key for the production of medical devices, had in some cases already hiked prices, 20 per cent or more, a couple of months before the outbreak of the coronavirus.

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Eastman Chemical increases alcohol prices

Eastman Chemical Co. said it raised prices on alcohols used as plasticizers effective March 15 in both North and Latin America.

It said that 2-Ethylhexanol prices, for all packages and grades, rose $0.05/lb while 2EH acid prices would also gain by the same amount, where contracts allow. It did not give any outright price.

Nearly all 2-Ethylhexanol manufactured is used as a precursor for the synthesis of the Diester bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), a plasticizer key for the production of medical devices.

BASF Corp., the U.S.-based subsidiary of Germany´s BASF, said on Feb. 28 that effective on April 1, or as existing contracts permit, prices in North America for 1,4-Butanediol (BDO) and derivatives will increase.

Prices for 1,4-Butanediol (BDO) will increase by 6 cents/lb while those for Tetrahydrofuran (THF) will gain 8 cents/lb. In addition, N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) will gain 6 cents/lb and polytetramethylene ether glycol (polyTHF) will rise 8 cents/lb. It didn’t give any outright price.

“BDO and its derivatives are used for producing engineering plastics, polyurethanes, solvents and elastic spandex fibers,” the company said.

3M is one of the companies reporting that they expect demand for medical supplies “to outpace supply for the foreseeable future.”

According to a 3M press release on March 19, its Aberdeen, South Dakota plant is working around the clock to make N95 respirators.

“While we have not changed the prices we charge for 3M respirators as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, we cannot control the prices other dealers or retailers charge,” 3M said.

Its production capacity is dedicated to supplying the “healthcare and government emergency response.” As a result, distributors have been informed that hospitals are being prioritized.

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