To Reuse or not to Reuse – that is the question (and with apologies to lovers of Shakespeare)

  • Posted on 07.09.2010

To Reuse or not to Reuse – that is the question (and with apologies to lovers of Shakespeare)


John Brennan

Director Regulations and Industrial Policy


The recent report from the European Commission into the reuse of single use medical devices reminds me of Hamlet. The Danish prince, like the Commission in their report, had to contemplate the nature of action, and whether to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them.

For me this question of allowing or not allowing reuse of single use medical devices is more safety than Shakespeare. Reusing a single use device is an ‘avoidable harm’ and a patient, you or me for example, shouldn’t be exposed to an avoidable harm.

It’s as simple as that. That is exactly why it’s banned in countries like the UK and France: it’s such a easy risk to avoid, so let’s avoid it.

The Commission report is a well drafted and welcome statement of the current facts on reuse. It paints the current picture in Europe quite well: some ban it, some allow it and a lot have no policy one way or the other. It also nicely stacks up the evidence for and against. Plenty of science and data to point to risk and harm, balanced against a scarily absence of science and data to support safety. Even the environmental and economic arguments seem on thin ice or are not there.

So with the current facts clear, isn’t the decision easy? To sleep, perchance to dream. The Commission says that Reuse will be dealt with under the Recast, and there’s the rub. Knowing only too well the potential vagaries of lawmaking, Eucomed will be working closely with the Commission as they draft the last act of this play.

With further apologies if I’ve over-egged the Hamlet metaphor

– John Brennan, Director Regulatory and Technical Affairs, Eucomed

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