SAFETY SYRINGE MAKES DEBUT IN MIDDLE EAST

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ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Kershenstine Medical Inc. launched its 3-cubic-centimeter Turtle TS-1 self-locking safety syringe with a February shipment to a customer in Saudi Arabia.

``Our goal is to set a new safety standard for hypodermic syringes and eliminate the problem of accidental needle-sticks,'' Tim Kershenstine, president and inventor, said in a telephone interview. ``Ours is passive in that an operator does not need to do anything to make it work.''

The TS-1's needle can never come in contact with the health-care worker.

The product, including a shell of Phillips Chemical Co.'s K-Resin styrene butadiene copolymer, will reach the U.S. market by June. The supplier, which exhibited in Anaheim at the Medical Design & Manufacturing West show, is a division of Phillips Petroleum Co. of Bartlesville, Okla.

The GNC Medical unit of CG Medical Industries manufactures the syringe in a six-cavity mold on a Toshiba injection molding machine at a Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, facility, initially producing 270,000 syringes per month.

Kershenstine said a Saudi Arabian group may license distribution rights to his patented technology in fighting the spread of AIDS in Middle East countries. Also, some major U.S. corporations could become licensees.

Kershenstine plans to build a manufacturing plant in Mississippi or Louisiana in late 1997 to supply the U.S. market. The Malaysia operation would continue to serve the international market.

A spring-loaded protective sheath covers the needle until an injection is made or fluid is drawn from a vial. The K-Resin's built-in memory ``directs two safety tabs to the correct place and assures that they always lock,'' Kershenstine said. Competing syringes have manual safety devices.

The 3cc size retails for about $1.25. Plans call for 1-, 5- and 10-cc sizes of the T-1. A blood collection safety syringe, the TS-2, is in final stages of development.

Parent Kershenstine Cos., headquartered in Kenner, La., employs 30 and produces meat, snack and beverage products in addition to the medical operation. Kershenstine projects medical sales of $5 million this year, $24 million in 1998 and $125 million in 1999.