the only French supplier of medical freezers is not idle

the only French supplier of medical freezers is not idle
the only French supplier of medical freezers is not idle
For a few days now, orders have started to arrive at the Froilabo headquarters in Meyzieu. From abroad. But not yet from the Hexagon.

“With us, it consults. The other Europeans are much more concrete. Decision-making is faster there, ”notes the CEO of the company Christophe Roux.

What equipment does Froilabo produce?

“We have not yet received specific orders” from France, adds Mr. Roux, even if he does not exclude that some of the equipment recently ordered from his company may ultimately be used to store vaccines.

If the traditional vaccines keep well in the refrigerator, those, very promising, developed by the American laboratories Moderna and Pfizer, need to be stored at very low temperature (-70 °).

Together with a handful of other manufacturers, Froilabo produces freezers capable of this type of performance with a very high degree of reliability.

They are normally used to store biological samples, if necessary for decades. Customers: hospitals and research centers.

Why the demand will explode

With the arrival of new anti-Covid vaccines, this niche market – Mr. Roux estimates French demand at around 3,000 units per year – should explode.

“While there are still a lot of uncertainties, we have the products, we have the technology and we make sure we are ready if we need us,” notes Tony Grandmenil, administrative and financial director.

“We are in the process of tripling our capacities through investments and reorganizations”, adds Mr. Roux. A program initiated before the arrival of the epidemic and which should end in February.

Not for the local pharmacist

Founded in 1918 in Lyon under the name Coupié to manufacture baby incubators, Froilabo today builds laboratory devices capable of producing hot and cold. Freezers represent the largest part of its production, exported for more than half.

Compared to its big competitors, the American giants Thermo Fisher Scientific, Chinese Haier and Japanese PHC, even the German groups Binder and Eppendorf, the French company is a featherweight, with its some 80 employees.

The company, which remains discreet about its economic performance, however benefits in research from the help of its parent company, the Scottish scientific equipment group Techcomp.

How much does it cost ?

It can thus develop and produce all its equipment itself: a factory in Pitesti (Romania) ensures mass production, while the Meyzieu head office adapts standard products to specific customer needs.

A 700 liter freezer costs around 12,000 euros. “It will not be the local pharmacist who can buy it”, notes Mr. Grandmenil.

How many doses of vaccine can these freezers hold? Everything will depend on the packaging used.

The largest freezers manufactured by Froilabo, with a capacity of 1,000 liters, should be able to accommodate 58,000 vials of “Pfizer type” vaccine.

This represents, at a rate of 5 doses per vial, approximately 290,000 doses.

It remains to know the logistical organization that will be decided by the State, which must in particular determine how the vaccine will be transported to the end user without breaking the cold chain.

It is further complicated by the fact that several types of vaccines will likely be used simultaneously. Vaccines do not necessarily require the same storage conditions.

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