Pasture Mask

The Straits Times – Local firm’s N95 mask is one of two to get FDA nod

VICTORIA, VAUGHAN. (2009). ‘Local firm’s N95 mask is one of two to get FDA nod’, The Straits Times, 15 July.

“The approval has brought Pasture’s credibility and status in general public-use masks to the level of the top mask producers in the world.”

– Pasture Pharma Chief Executive Lloyd Soong

Pasture Pharma’s masks are approved by US authority for public use; no fit test needed
A SINGAPORE company has come up with an N95 mask that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for public use.
Pasture Pharma is one of only two companies in the world to have received this accreditation. The other is US multinational corporation 3M.
Other N95 masks are recommended for occupa­tional use in places like hospitals, as wearers need a fit test to ensure that these are worn properly.
For example, at Singapore General Hospital, clin­ical staff undergo N95 mask-fitting at the time of their employment, and the sizes are recorded. This was repeated three months ago as an “added precau­tion” against Influenza A (H1N1).
In a fit test, a person puts on the mask and then a hood. A sweet or bitter solution is sprayed into the hood, and if the wearer can taste it, then the mask is not being worn properly or is of the wrong size, and particles can leak through.
But individuals can wear Pasture Pharma’s mask without a fit test because tests on about 600 first-time users found that most of them could achieve a proper fit just by following the instruc­tions.
The mask was also certified to filter 95 per cent of particles by the US National Institute for Occupa­tional Safety and Health.
Based on these results, the FDA approved of the mask for public use in January this year.
The company’s chief executive Lloyd Soong had been inspired to develop his mask after he helped as a vaccine “delivery boy” during the 2003 Sars epi­demic, and found the mask he wore uncomfortable and difficult to breathe though.
His mask, completed in 2007, uses technolo­gy that aligns the mask’s fibres so that it is easier to breathe through. It costs about $2 each, when bought in bulk.
The company sought FDA approval for the recognition it brings, Mr Soong said.
He added: “The ap­proval has brought Pas­ture’s credibility and status in general pub­lic-use masks to the lev­el of the top mask pro­ducers in the world.”
It has also led to the US and Taiwan govern­ments buying “millions of masks” from the company, with other governments in discus­sions to do so.
Currently, the mask is not sold in Singapore but the Health Ministry, which stockpiles masks for public hospitals and Pandemic Preparedness Clin­ics, has been given information about it.
“We have not yet approached the pharmacies in Singapore as our priority is government stock­piles,” Mr Soong said.
Pasture Pharma has also developed another N95 mask called NT-V2, which is coated with nanoparti­cies that can neutralise viruses.
Tests have found it to work against tuberculosis, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus and an anthrax surrogate. It is being tested against H5N1 and H1N1 and has been put up for FDA approval.
These masks are already being sold in the US, and Temasek Holdings has bought some.
Pasture Pharma is in talks with the Economic De­velopment Board which aims to introduce it to po­tential investors.

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