Opinion: Sterilization firm’s viewpoint on state consent decree

The exterior of Becton, Dickinson and Company in Covington. (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)
The exterior of Becton, Dickinson and Company in Covington. (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)

Becton, Dickinson and Co. (BD) issued this statement October 28:

BD plays an essential role in the safe and effective delivery of health care and maintains an unwavering commitment to health care providers and patients. BD entered into an agreement with the State of Georgia to ensure that the company can continue to provide critical medical devices that are sterilized in its Covington facility. BD is safely operating in full compliance with its permits, has proactively adopted the most advanced and best available technology and is emitting a fraction of its allowable limit.

As a result of this agreement and BD’s business continuity efforts, BD does not expect disruption to product availability at this time.

This agreement, which was approved by the Georgia Superior Court today in a consent order, resolved the State’s litigation filed against the company last week.

According to the terms of the consent order, BD will continue to move forward with the previously announced timelines for the $8 million in voluntary improvements the company committed to make in August 2019. In addition, the Covington facility will voluntarily suspend sterilization operations for a weeklong period from Oct. 30 to Nov. 6 to allow Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to take ambient air monitoring samples in the area when the company’s sterilization systems are not in operation.

BD will resume sterilization operations at the site on Nov. 7 and has agreed with the State to: 1) operate at a reduced capacity at Covington, 2) not expand production at Madison, and 3) implement certain operational modifications to further reduce emissions and protect product availability for patients.

One of BD’s core values is to do what is right – for employees, communities, customers and patients. BD would not trade employee or community safety for patient safety, but knowing that the science has confirmed the safety of the company’s operations, BD will always advocate for the patients around the world who rely on the more than 250 million devices each year that are sterilized by BD in Georgia. The company remains confident in the safety of its operations and the scientific analysis that confirms that its operations do not pose a threat to employees, the community or public health.