To the person with a chronic wound, the condition represents pain, social and psychological debilitation and usually a financial load. To society, wound care—and especially the treatment of difficult-to-heal wounds—may represent great human suffering, social discomfort, days lost from work, mental health problems, recurrent infections and great economic burden and the human burden of wound care. Having a chronic wound not only necessitates physical care of the wound, including cleaning, disinfecting, irrigating, and changing dressings; it also impacts the emotional and psychological health of the patient. Depression can set in due to a lower quality of life and dependence on others for care of the wound, as well as for overall assistance, both physical and financial. Wounds may cause odors or may have visible drainage, staining clothing and triggering feelings of embarrassment and shame. These in turn may lead to isolation due to decreased mobility and the fear of being a burden on family and friends. To make things worse, increased stress can slow the progress of wound healing.
In caring for a chronic wound, the dressing costs are only part of the picture; the less visible costs include such items as nursing care, medications for pain and infections, and hospitalization. Hospitalization is a leading cost driver for wound care, accounting for at least 50% of the global economic burden. Nursing time to properly care for the patient with a chronic wound can be lengthy, and this is time that could be spent with other patients. In a new report published in the December 2017 online version of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research’s (ISPOR) Value in Health journal (An Economic Evaluation of the Impact, Cost, and Medicare Policy Implications of Chronic Nonhealing Wounds. Nussbaum, Samuel R. et al. Value in Health, Volume 21 , Issue 1 , 27 – 32) (see the study), the researchers found that the costs related to wound care in the Medicare population (USA) were much higher than originally estimated, and that care took place primarily in outpatient settings. For the calendar year 2014, there is considerable variation in the estimates originating from different sources:
“Total Medicare spending estimates for all wound types ranged from $28.1 to $96.8 billion. Including infection costs, the most expensive estimates were for surgical wounds ($11.7, $13.1, and $38.3 billion), followed by diabetic foot ulcers ($6.2, $6.9, and $18.7 billion,). The highest cost estimates in regard to site of service were for hospital outpatients ($9.9–$35.8 billion), followed by hospital inpatients ($5.0–$24.3 billion).”
The development of advanced wound care dressings, devices and biologics is helping to change this situation. Although these advanced products may seem (or may be) expensive, they end up saving money for health care systems by healing wounds more rapidly.
The wound care industry remains quite fragmented, with about eight companies holding leading market shares, but with possibly thousands of small cap companies around the world that are also manufacturing and marketing various wound care products. The Traditional Wound Care space remains attractive, in part since gauze dressings are relatively easy to manufacture and are also still the most commonly-used wound dressing. Even a small company can invent a novel twist to a dressing and experience a rise in profits and inroads into the market.
Low to medium industry concentration. As the traditional and advanced market shares diagrams below demonstrate, there are five to eight major players in Traditional and Advanced Wound Care Markets.
Source: Report S254, “Wound Management to 2026”.
While these firms account for about 79% and 73% of the total markets, respectively, a significant portion of these markets are covered by hundreds or thousands of Other companies. This low to medium level of concentration means that smaller companies, or large companies looking to break into Wound Care, are able to do so more easily than if, say, three companies controlled 95% of the market.
Johnson & Johnson is estimated to be the Traditional Wound Care market leader with about 26% share, followed by Smith & Nephew, 3M Health Care and Hartmann. Medline Industries is estimated to account for about 8%, while Others account for about 21% of this market.
Breaking into the Advanced Wound Care markets presents a somewhat greater challenge. Here, the leading companies have invested heavily in R&D to gain strategic competitive advantage, as well as to create improved products for patients. Smith & Nephew is holds an estimated 21% of this market, followed by Acelity and Johnson & Johnson with 11% each, and Mölnlycke, 3M Health Care, Hartmann, Cardinal Health and ConvaTec accounting for smaller shares. Here again, Others accounts for at least 27% of this market.
Advanced Wound Care Market Shares, 2017
Source: Report S254.
Opportunities exist in both Traditional and Advanced Wound Care, especially if a company is in the position of acquiring part or all of an existing wound care company, and if the company can then invest in the development of its new products. If points of distribution overlap, then so much the better.
Relatively low barriers to entry. Good news for companies wishing to break into wound care: barriers to entry into the traditional wound dressing segments (Adherents, Gauze and Non-Adherent Dressings) are relatively low, while demand remains strong. Typically, once a company is established in a traditional segment, it may either plow revenues into research and development, or it may acquire companies to more easily break into new product segments and markets. Many companies in wound care have followed just this path to gain market share and make an impact in the industry.