April 16, 2012, 12:18 PM ET
A Burgeoning Market for Wound Care
With the cost of chronic wound care rising, efforts are underway to improve prevention, early detection and treatment, as WSJ reports in today’s special report on innovation in health care. That’s good news for the makers of wound-care products: Research firm Kalorama Information projects the global market will rise to nearly $21 billion in 2015 from $16.8 billion this year.
Among the products expected to increase in use: negative pressure wound therapy which uses special dressings and vacuum technology to speed healing. London-based GlobalData recently forecast that market will double to $4 billion by 2018 from $2 billion last year, with an increase in the use of single-use disposable devices and portable systems that can be used in home care.
Among the companies set to benefit, according to the research reports: KCI, Smith & Nephew, ConVatec and Johnson & Johnson.
But with a gap in knowledge about the most effective treatments, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality last year awarded the Johns Hopkins Evidence-based Practice Center a $475,000 grant to review state-of-the-art wound care, determine what’s known about medications, antibiotics, dressings and surgery, and establish strategies of care that are proven to work.
“There is a very limited amount of well-developed information about how you deal with wounds,” co-investigator Dr. Gerald Lazarus tells the Health Blog. A dermatology professor and founder of the wound center at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Lazarus says the focus of the review will be on chronic lower extremity wounds, which can be complications of leg ulcers and diabetes and can be exacerbated by obesity and poor nutrition. But he expects what they learn to be applicable to other types of wounds such as pressure ulcers or bed sores, as well.
Among the issues that are debated in wound care is the role of antibiotics, which can promote development of resistant organisms in the wounds, and the most appropriate wound dressings, which range widely in price. Expensive oxygen chambers — known as hyperbaric therapy — are good for some kind of wounds, but may not be appropriate for all types, Lazarus says.
“Wounds that will not heal are frequently signs of larger and more complicated health problems, and can take a toll on patients far beyond the pain and discomfort of the wound,” Lazarus says. “We always want to focus on what’s best for the patient but with the runaway situation in health costs, there should be justification that the treatments being used have documented value.”
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