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Keeping it Clean

Hygiene deficiencies in hospitals is a recurring topic of public discussion in Switzerland, with many cases of hospital infections occurring each year. Many of these could have been prevented with better hygiene. The sterilization of medical instruments is an important part of this. For 25 years, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary ASP (Advanced Sterilization Products) has developed and marketed innovative sterilizers.


Patient protection through hygiene has always been a core focus of Johnson & Johnson. In 1886, the Johnson brothers started their business with sterile sutures and dressings. At the time many women died of puerperal fever caused by infection. While this particular condition almost never occurs today, infections are still a risk. Hospital infections present a major challenge to medical institutions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), five to ten percent of all hospitalized patients become infected, including over four million people in Europe every year. In about 37,000 cases the infections are fatal.

Revolution in Sterilization
For 25 years, Johnson & Johnson has offered solutions that help reduce the risk. In 1987 the ASP (Advanced Sterilization Products) company developed a process and product for sterilizing temperature-sensitive instruments. Other than autoclaving, which operates at 134° C, the other two methods then available to sterilize these instruments were involved and time-consuming. With both of them, instruments were not ready for use again for between 4 to 15 hours. These sterilization methods also involved controversial hazardous substances.

ASP engineers in Irvine, USA, developed a new, particularly gentle technology using gaseous hydrogen peroxide. Called the Sterrad process, it works at about 50° C and is highly suitable for delicate instruments with optical or electronic components. This very gentle method results in measurably fewer problems with the functioning and life of sensitive instruments.

Market Leader
After the process came the product to perform it. In 1992 the world’s first Sterrad compact sterilization system went into operation in Bremervörde, Germany. Today over 18,500 such systems are in use around the world, performing some 32 million sterilization cycles every year. Since 2003 the containers of hydrogen peroxide, so-called Sterrad cassettes, have been manufactured by Cilag AG in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, for the world market.

ASP continues to refine the technology. “We keep working on innovations and improvements to our system solutions,” says Thorsten Frackowiak, Business Director DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) ASP. “The demands made on the hygiene of complex, costly and innovative instruments continue to rise. Our goal is to offer powerful and efficient solutions with our technology.” The company’s most recent milestone is Glosair, a mobile system for decontaminating surfaces and rooms up to about 200 cubic meters that reliably eliminates pathogens.

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