Innovating a Thai-made Colostomy Bag

The quality of treatment provided to medical patients has a major impact on access and cost. Good-quality treatment promotes better outcomes for public health in general while ensuring better living for patients. Colon cancer patients must wear a colostomy bag at all times. It serves the crucial role of collecting waste products from patients. A colostomy bag is expensive and can be uncomfortable, and up to now they have been imported into Thailand from abroad.

“The number of patients suffering from colon cancer is considerably higher nowadays, as is the demand for colostomy bags. Today, all colostomy bags must be imported at very high prices of 150 to 300 Thai Baht each. As a result, the Ministry of Public Health distributes them to provincial hospitals in very limited numbers, which is inadequate for patients’ needs,” said Dr. Worrawit Wanichsuwan, who works at the Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkhla University.

This problem led to a collaboration between PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC), Prince of Songkhla University, and the Plastics Institute of Thailand for the research and development of a special type of Compound LLDPE plastic pellets with a capacity to absorb odors, prevent leakage, and vastly reduce the cost of colostomy bags.

PTTGC provided ten tons of these plastic pellets to Prince of Songkhla University and the Plastics Institute of Thailand for them to produce 60,000 colostomy bags, which are being tested by patients at 322 hospitals nationwide. The test involves around 30 patients at each hospital, and approximately 9,000 patients will take part in the test during the project.

Mr. Supattanapong Punmeechaow, President & Chief Executive Officer, PTT Global Chemical Public Company Ltd., said, “PTTGC’s vision is to be a leading chemical company for better living. This project will help to improve the quality of life for patients, and we are fully aware of the need and significance of supporting patients in terms of affordability and access. This is an important initiative to encourage the development of plastic medical devices.

“I am fully confident that the potential and preparedness in terms of knowledge, innovation, and technology by the organizations involved in this project will be a significant driver for further development. It will lead to collaboration on other high-quality plastic medical devices in the future. Our aim is to produce colostomy bags domestically to eliminate the import cost, which ultimately benefits Thai patients. With our commitment and sense of purpose, PTTGC aims to deliver positive benefits and an improved quality of life for Thais,” he said.

Dr. Worrawit added, “This project will help to significantly lower the cost of colostomy bags and also reduce imports. Our product has special features to store waste and reduce odors more effectively. By enabling patients access through government services, this project will have a positive impact and build patients’ confidence by allowing them to go about their lives as usual. In addition, it will increase the value of the plastic and para rubber sector.”

The Chairman of the Ostomy Patients Club of Thailand, Mr. Sombat Hataipeamsook, said, “Ostomy patients have a hard life, and some lack confidence and feel ashamed of themselves. The colostomy bags from this project are now available, and their high quality in terms of storing waste and reducing unpleasant odor, plus the lower price, is tremendously good news for patients and is a definite improvement in their quality of life. It’s also very important that these colostomy bags will eventually be accessible to patients through the National Health Security Office in the future.”

This project is a collaboration to leverage the development of Thailand’s medical device sector and make it more efficient. For the project, PTTGC provided special grades of InnoPlus plastic pellets for use in the research and development of colostomy bags for colon cancer patients, reducing the need to subsidize imported bags and creating shared value.

The colostomy bag project is definitely a win-win, as it focuses on new product innovation and ideas to improve the quality of life and add value for patients in need, while fulfilling PTTGC’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility.