Pactiv Corp. and Rollprint Packaging Products Inc. announced a new medical packaging partnership March 1.
The two companies will combine their medical packaging technologies, including Pactiv's Propyflex intravenous bags, a polypropylene-based alternative to PVC IV bags.
"It will give us a U.S. manufacturing presence, which is a very important thing for us," said Michael Troedel, director of sales and marketing for Lake Forest, Ill.-based Pactiv.
The company's Sengewald Verpackungen GmbH & Co. KG unit in Halle, Germany, commercialized the Propyflex bags four years ago in Europe. But Pactiv did not manufacture or sell the bags in North America.
Troedel said both Pactiv and Rollprint will benefit from shared technology and expanded product lines, including Rollprint's Allegro peelable sealants.
"Rollprint will manufacture, market and sell our European products and technology in the United States, and we will do the same with their products and technology in Europe.
"We will jointly co-develop and market in the Asia-Pacific [region], as Asia-Pacific will be driven more by Propyflex," Troedel said.
Pactiv and Addison, Ill.-based Rollprint will compete with B. Braun McGaw, a Bethlehem, Pa., company that has commercialized a non-PVC bag.
"The reality of it is we would probably be happy with 30-40 percent of the market," Troedel said in a March 2 telephone interview. Other IV-bag makers include Abbott Laboratories and Baxter Healthcare Corp.
Although PVC IV bags still predominate, makers of non-PVC products might see their market share grow because of concerns about phthalates, which are used to soften PVC. Baxter already has pledged to find alternatives to some PVC medical products. Also, the Food and Drug Administration is preparing to release a review of the safety of phthlates in medical products.
Troedel said U.S. manufacture of medical packaging products like roll stock for pouch making or form/fill/seal equipment will begin almost immediately at Rollprint's 196,000-square-foot plant in Addison.
Production of the Propyflex product may be further down the road, he said.
"It [Propyflex] has potential to be produced in United States, but we don't have any U.S. business yet to justify U.S. manufacture of it," he said. "We are certainly hopeful that will happen shortly."
Currently, less than 1 percent of Pactiv's $3.1 billion sales are generated from medical products, Troedel estimated. He said the partnership's goal is to double that percentage within two years.
Film converter Rollprint draws an estimated 70 percent of its sales from the medical industry, after the 1995 purchase of the assets of UCB Medical Industries Inc. of Bloomfield, Conn.
"What this will do is give us a start to becoming a global medical packaging supplier," Troedel said. "A lot of multinational medical companies are asking for material ... to be available in Europe and the Far East."
Rollprint officials were not available for comment.