Medela opens New Production Line in the US and more than Triples Production in Switzerland of Critical Portable Suction Systems Aiding Hospital Ventilator Support and Patients with COVID-19

•Launch of US American Vario 18 AC Production Line as Rapid Response to Local Surge of Infection Rates •Expands Access to Vario 18 as well as Dominant Flex and Basic Suction Pumps across America, Europe, Australia, and Asia

Medela AG, today announced the launch of a new US American production line of its Vario 18 AC Portable Suction Pumps – up to 10,000 units are to be produced and shipped to the local hospitals and healthcare facilities by August to meet the acute demand. Simultaneously, the company has more than tripled its Swiss production of surgical and airway suction pumps, including Vario 18, Dominant Flex and Basic, since mid-March to address urgent needs in this pandemic crisis. These devices provide crucial suction and fluid removal during respiratory treatment provided by ventilators and the rapid expansion of the production facilities is intended to help meet the growing and ongoing needs of hospitals and other healthcare facilities across all five continents.

Traditionally, hospitals ensure a patient’s airway is clear by utilising suction that relies on central wall piped vacuum. According to information recently published by the National Health Service (NHS) 1, hospitals should not use piped vacuum to support infectious disease units (IDU) to reduce the risk of virus spread and cross-contamination.  With hospitals and other treatment facilities experiencing overcrowding, added beds, and new layout configurations, there is a need for light-weight, portable, and easy to manoeuvre suction equipment. Additionally, the Medela pumps are equipped with a disposable virus filter and fluid collection system and may reduce the risk of infection for caregivers and patients 2.


"Standard of care in the ICU requires each patient to be provided with a single suction device. It is critical not to share suction between patients to avoid cross-contamination and to refrain from wall suction wherever possible, due to concerns about virus transmission. Rather, it requires the provision of portable, reliable and quiet suction equipment to support each individual patient," says Dr Stephan Cole, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, Scotland, and President of the Scottish Intensive Care Society, adding: "With this new reality ahead of us until we have a vaccine, we need to be able to rapidly increase our ICU bed capacity within 2 or 3 weeks of notice. This means we must prepare, plan and stock hardware such as ventilators, suction pumps and monitors to manage for future surges." 


As COVID-19 continues to spread and healthcare systems are planning for potential future surges, ventilator and suction pump manufacturers scramble to produce more units. While mechanical ventilators are essential for patients in an intensive care unit, so is accompanying suction pump equipment for the removal of lung secretions generated from the inflammatory process of the coronavirus. Thanks to the mobility, independence from piped vacuum systems and reduced risk of infection for caregivers and patients, mobile surgical and airway suction systems is the path to be taken going forward to ensure optimal care for patients and meet future challenges of global health.


“Pairing ventilators with portable suction technology like the Vario 18 or our Dominant Flex and Basic devices is crucial to ensuring pulmonary hygiene to support patient care and recovery. We saw the needs of hospitals across the globe and began efforts to ramp up production already in March,” said Annette Brüls, chief executive officer of Medela worldwide. “However, the demand continues to outpace our capacity by far. This is why we decided to build this additional capacity in the United States so we can better support hospitals and clinicians to aid in recovery and preparedness for any potential resurgence in the future.”


Medela has been a pioneer in suction technology for nearly 60 years and manufactures a suite of professional medical vacuum solutions essential for the treatment of patients who require hospital or intensive medical care. Thanks to their mobility, the units comply with NHS recommendations for piped vacuum and are equipped with reusable or disposable collection systems and a virus filter to prevent cross-contamination in the hospital environment. The solutions are widely used in Europe, and Medela’s dedicated COVID-19 team assessed the current need to ramp up production worldwide to help address the pandemic.