One important weapon in the arsenal of noninvasive or minimally invasive therapies for Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) comprises bulking agentsâ€”injectable substances that expand the intrinsic sphincter of the bladder, allowing it to withstand greater pressures.
There are several companies exploring or developing bulking agents for SUI (see chart). For many of these, the technology was initially designed as a therapy for treatment of wrinkles or other dermal defects, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), wound care, drug delivery or other therapy.
Treatment for urinary incontinence ranges from pelvic muscle rehabilitation to behavioral therapies and pharmacologic therapies. Beyond that, surgical therapies exist and are becoming increasingly less invasive. Minimally or even noninvasive interventional therapies are extremely attractive to both young and old patients; younger patients donâ€™t want to be slowed down by an open surgery while many older patients may not be strong enough to undergo such.
The latest therapies being developed to treat SUI involve bulking agents, sling or urethral supports, and even stem cell therapies, among other procedures.
At least 13 million Americans suffer from urinary incontinence, a condition that is far more frequent in women than in men. In the general population between the ages of 15 and 64, 10%â€“30% of women are affected, compared to only 1.5â€“5% of men. At least 50% of all nursing home residents have urinary incontinence, 70% of whom are women.
The Agency for Health Care Policy & Research estimates that $16.4 billion is spent annually on incontinence-related care: $11.2 billion for community-based programs and at home, and $5.2 billion in long-term care facilities. In addition, $1.1 billion is spent annually on disposable products for adults.See MedMarkets, July 2006 issue.