High medical cost the target of chronic wound treatments

Chronic wounds — which persist as a result of poor local circulation, localized pressure and other causes, alone or in combination — are responsible for high and growing costs in healthcare.  Being more prevalent in the growing, aging population due to their higher incidence of pressure ulcers, diabetic ulcers, the chronic wound a problem that is becoming more and more pronounced.

There is an incidence of approximately 5.2 million pressure ulcers in the world that require treatment every year. Optimally, these wounds receive advanced wound management products and appropriate care to address the underlying defect that has caused the chronic wound. Pressure ulcers are caused by compression of the skin and underlying tissues, as when a patient is bedridden and the buttocks are pressed onto the mattress; a number of advanced devices exist to reduce pressure for patients. Other skin ulcers are caused by poor circulation, even without the added complication of pressure. There are approximately 7.6 million venous ulcers, and approximately 7.0 diabetic ulcers in the world requiring treatment.

Chronic wounds are growing in incidence due to the growing numbers of elderly individuals in the population, and the caseload is also increasing due to improved diagnosis and education. At present these factors are contributing to growth of this pool of patients faster than new technologies are reducing the incidence of wounds by healing them.

There is a common perception that medical technologies are responsible for the high cost of healthcare in the U.S.   One can make strong arguments that a number of medical technologies are simply overused (many critics point to overused advanced imaging technologies).  However, providing solutions to high healthcare costs has been an area of attention and opportunity in the eyes of medtech companies since well before the current or prior attempts at healthcare reform.  And now, in today’s climate, new medical technologies are even more likely to be challenged for their potential to increase costs, and manufacturers therefore understand full well that their new product innovations must either make a moderately convincing case that each new technology will lower cost or make an overwhelming case that it will dramatically improve quality of life treating previously untreated, or significantly under-treated, conditions.  The high costs of chronic wounds represent a prime example and therefore have been and will be subject to advanced medical technology development.

Drawn from the pending September 2009 report #S247, "Worldwide Wound Management Market, 2008-2007."

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