Confronting ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Healthcare Supply Chains

The healthcare industry faces a hidden yet formidable challenge: the pervasive presence of PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances), also known as “forever chemicals,” within its supply chains. These substances, notorious for their persistence in the environment and adverse health effects, have seeped into many medical products, from surgical gowns to advanced medical devices.


As regulations tighten and public awareness grows, the imperative to act is more pressing than ever. The U.S. EPA will require some reporting of PFAS in 2025; many countries and states have similar requirements, with the goal of eliminating the chemicals from circulation. The healthcare sector finds itself tasked with extricating these chemicals from its supply chain without disrupting the delivery of essential medical services.


Exiger explored the issue with an expert panel, Forever Chemicals in the Flow of Healthcare Delivery, to examine the problem and ways organizations can begin to combat it.

Five Steps Organizations Should Take

Experts recommended several actions to take, including these five highlights:


1. Use advanced technology for supply chain visibility. The problem of forever chemicals in the healthcare supply chain is too big to tackle with manual research. An AI-driven technology solution, like the 1Exiger platform, can be used to gain transparency into the entire supply chain.


“With thousands of these chemicals out there, I understand this is a very complex problem,” said Theresa Campobasso, SVP of Strategy, Government Solutions at Exiger and a panelist for the webinar. “But illuminating the supply chain first can form a baseline for approaching the problem, and then next steps and a pathway to risk mitigation become clearer.”


2. Prioritize which items to address. Identify the most critical products in your supply chain and focus on those first. Consider the financial impact and patient outcomes when prioritizing.


Dr. Thomas Deeb, VP of T&M Associates and webinar panelist, said reducing PFAS usage is an important business decision for many suppliers and medtech manufacturers. “Companies are realizing that PFAS are going to be regulated out, so they’re working to transition the products and replace them. They look at where they’re making money and where they’re going to see the most impact.”


He added that organizations should take action now rather than wait for regulators to ban PFAS. Inaction could eventually spike costs and disrupt life-saving supplies.


“This is kind of a trainwreck that’s well on its way — not only for medical but other industries, too,” he warned.


3. Engage with suppliers. Where possible, collaborating with suppliers to identify PFAS-free alternatives is vital. A proactive approach that encourages transparency and pushes for PFAS-free products can build trust and drive change throughout the supply chain.


Deeb stressed that PFAS elimination is in the best interest of suppliers. “PFAS availability will go down over time,” he said. “The Europeans are already putting caps on and preventing trade or shipping products to other countries under those caps.”


4. Monitor your supplier network. Implement a system to continuously monitor your supply chain for any changes or new risks. Stay informed about regulatory changes and industry developments, as they shift often.


“After you establish transparency in the supply chain, maybe tomorrow one of your vendors experiences a compliance issue or a legal action or a merger with a company that you find does not meet your risk threshold,” said Campobasso. “You need to be informed of that so you can make a decision before something becomes a critical problem to your organization or to your patients.”


5. Mitigate risks. Leverage the data from illuminating your supply chain and monitoring process to take action. The information could lead you to negotiate with your suppliers to find alternatives to PFAS-containing products. Or you might consider equipment modifications or stockpiling certain items until other options are available. Stay proactive in finding solutions to reduce PFAS exposure.


“It’s so much easier to do this when you have the information that’s giving you these specific areas to focus on,” Campobasso said.

“Illuminating the supply chain first can form a baseline for approaching the problem, and then next steps and a pathway to risk mitigation become clearer.”

Theresa Campobasso, SVP of Strategy, Government Solutions at Exiger

Exiger Helps Mitigate PFAS Risks in Healthcare Supply Chains

Exiger’s technology solutions can help healthcare supply chain leaders battle against PFAS in supplier networks. By consolidating risk assessment, supplier due diligence, and monitoring into a single, robust platform, 1Exiger simplifies the complex task of navigating PFAS risks. The platform enables leaders to:


  • Illuminate the supply chain: Gain a comprehensive understanding of where PFAS chemicals are present in your products and processes.
  • Monitor compliance and risks: Stay ahead of regulatory changes and emerging risks with continuous monitoring and risk assessments.
  • Identify alternatives and solutions: Get item-level visibility and insights to find safer alternatives to PFAS-containing materials.


The risks these substances pose to public health — and the looming regulatory repercussions — make it imperative for supply chain leaders to address this issue without delay. Contact us to learn how Exiger can help you reduce PFAS risks in your supply chain.


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