U.S. company Gore agrees on emergency shipment of artificial blood vessels

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2019-03-12 09:50 Updated : 2019-03-12 09:50
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Courtesy of GORE]

SEOUL -- South Korean hospitals heaved a sigh of relief after a U.S. medical device company agreed on an emergency shipment of artificial blood vessels for pediatric cardiac surgery at the request of health authorities.

The medical division of Gore, which is well known for its outdoor clothing material Gore-Tex, will quickly send 20 artificial blood vessels, which are urgently needed for cardiac surgery at South Korean hospitals, according to a joint statement issued by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

In a letter, the American company promised to send more at an early date through dialogue with the South Korean government, the statement said. 

Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo called for joint international action to cope with monopoly by multinational medical companies, warning that he would bring the issue to the World Health Organization's general assembly in May.

"A joint and ethical approach is needed among various governments," Park told reporters on Monday, saying the international community requires concerted action to handle exclusive rare medicines or medical equipment produced by multinational companies.

Gore's artificial blood vessels or vascular grafts are essential for palliative pediatric cardiac procedures because South Korean hospitals have no alternative for pediatric cardiac surgery.

The American company withdrew from South Korea in October 2017, citing declining profitability due to low health insurance charges and a dispute with the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, a state watchdog, over manufacturing and quality management standards. Health authorities have introduced new rules.