First steps in Siegen
The Dr. Arabin GmbH & Co. KG was not founded with an intention to start a company. Instead, Dr. Hans Arabin developed different models of pessaries initially at his home for the treatment of his own patients with prolapse and incontinence and later to treat his patients at risk of preterm labor.
Since 1962, Dr. Hans Arabin was the chair of a private hospital for gynecology and obstetrics in Siegen, where his wife Dr. Gretel Arabin worked as a pediatrician and anesthesiologist. Already at this time he used “home-made” gynecological pessaries for prolapse and urinary incontinence as an alternative to surgery for older women, where previous operations had made further operations impossible or when anesthesia was too risky.
Due to the high mortality of preterm infants at that time he also designed a cerclage pessary, to hold the cervix as high as possible and to keep it in a rotated stable position. Together with the engineer Lothar Berg and the nurse-practioner Gabriele Schneider he modified shapes and selected appropriate silicone and metal inlays compatible with mucosa tissue.
Only when the production of larger quantities was required due to transferals of problematic patients to his hospital and orders from colleagues, a so-called KG was founded in 1968 allowing production and distribution. After his death in 1990, his wife Dr. Gretel Arabin somehow maintained the production and distribution of pessaries made by home workers for a limited time.
Meanwhile, transvaginal ultrasonography of the cervix had been introduced and could objectify the indication of a cerclage pessary. Increasingly, transperineal ultrasound examinations became helpful for indications of gynecological pessaries. Prof. Birgit Arabin worked since 1993 in Zwolle in the Netherlands and only then realized the effect of the cerclage pessary in some desperate clinical situations of repetitive preterm birth. Since nobody was willing to produce these pessaries any longer, she decided in 1997 to set up a GmbH & Co KG on the Campus of the Private University Witten which was situated between Siegen and Zwolle and to let the pessaries be made within a working place for disabled people in Zwolle next to the Perinatal Center.
Right from the start of the GmbH & CO KG in Witten in 1997, the production and distribution had to be computerized and certified according to European legislation for medical products, the latter with the aid of MDSS Hannover and of Med-Cert Hamburg. The fact that Prof. Arabin had observed a prolongation of pregnancy in risk patients for preterm birth was a motivation not only to supervise all activities of the company but mainly to stimulate international colleagues to objectify her observations. After her first case-control study (published in 2003) based on findings obtained from transvaginal sonography finally a first large randomized controlled trial (RCT) was published in the Lancet (Goya et al. 2012) for singleton pregnancies and a further trial in twin pregnancies (Liem et al. 2013). Both studies demonstrated that the pessary fulfilled not only the effect of pregnancy prolongation, but also improved the immediate neonatal outcome. These studies caused an increasing interest in the design of further studies in different countries. However, it became obvious that personal training and clinical experience is an essential part of the success. Increasingly, work processes had to be standardized and certified and when the number of required pessaries increased, the production for certain products was transferred to automatic processes.
In 2012, an additional training center (Villa Clara Angela) was established in Berlin, with the opportunity for courses and study coordination. In addition, cooperative projects with uro-gynecologists have been encouraged; new pessaries will be designed and evaluated.
The coordination of clinical science, teaching and company goals was only possible with the support of a continuously growing reliable team whereby we thank each co-worker.
Profits of the Dr. Arabin GmbH & Co. KG are mainly invested in the Clara Angela Foundation which was founded in 1997 and initially grew slowly (see www.clara-angela.info).
Increasingly, the Foundation intends to use niches for the creation of some space to support new ideas for the benefit of mothers and children and to match artistic scientists with scientific artists.