ROSWELL, Ga. (June 29) — Kimberly-Clark Health Care is shifting its production of examination gloves to synthetic materials from natural latex in the coming months, citing customer preferences and the rising cost of latex.
The company said it made this decision to support growing customer demand for synthetic solutions, such as its "Sterling" nitrile glove and "Purple Nitrile" exam gloves.
Kimberly-Clark said costs of raw latex have risen 300 percent since 2002, while energy costs have risen 274 percent over the same period. It said it did not expect the prices of either latex or energy to fall in the mid- to long-term, and that it would need to pass these costs on to its customers.
"High-quality, synthetic alternatives to latex, which do not sacrifice worker and patient safety, will continue to become more affordable, removing cost as the last significant barrier to changing to a latex-free system," said Joanne Bauer, president of Kimberly-Clark Health Care.
John Amat, vice president of sales and marketing, said the availability of a better alternative to latex in terms of both comfort and pricing helps to make a compelling case for facilities to use latex-free solutions.
Kimberly-Clark got into the glove business in 2000 with its purchase of Safeskin Corp.