The European Union is looking into “planned obsolescence.”  Specifically, the European Parliament is asking the European Commission to “create a clear definition of the term ‘planned obsolescence,’ and to develop a system to track that aging process,” as published in Electronics.  The Parliament hopes to stimulate job creation noting a “more independent repair service” industry and second-hand market because products will get a “new lease on life.”

Reprocessors know this story all too well.  The devices AMDR members reprocess and remanufacture are literally labeled “for single use” by the original manufacturers. However, AMDR members have FDA clearance and European approval to reprocess and remanufacture these products for a number of cycles – thereby giving new life to these medical device assets.  Regulatory agencies require us to demonstrate our reprocessed and remanufactured devices are as safe and as effective as the original equipment, at each and every turn of that device.  With this more optimized use of existing devices, hospitals and healthcare providers free up resources allowing them to improve patient care.

Reprocessors have served as a critical check on manufacturers who build obsolesce into their devices. Beyond the single use label itself, AMDR has reports of manufacturers installing microchips into devices, upgrading software or generators or otherwise build devices NOT to last.  AMDR believes the future of healthcare requires the medical device industry to enter a new paradigm where the focus is on providing value to healthcare rather than pursuing one-sided profit goals. Slapping single use on products or adding “kill switches” without considering the financial and environmental implications for hospitals certainly induces higher profits for device firms, but it ignores sky rocketing healthcare costs for consumers.  Reprocessing should be an integrated element in medical device technology development and marketing.

AMDR will certainly be following the EU’s inquiry into forced obsolesce.  In the meantime, AMDR published resources for hospitals identifying the types of tactics hospitals for which they should remain mindful.  AMDR and its members are committed to helping hospitals maximize the value of their medical device assets.