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Advanced wound care products play a pivotal role in treating chronic or acute wounds, which are particularly associated with conditions such as diabetes mellitus, weak immune systems, cardiovascular or respiratory disease, renal impairment, malignancy, rheumatoid, obesity and malnutrition.

Bandages incorporate biomaterials or substances that are targeted at enhancing or speeding up the healing process. This includes moist and active dressings, with the former incorporating materials such as hydrogels and the latter being based on biomaterials like collagen, hylauronic acid and growth factors.

It is possible to divide the advanced wound management market into further sub-segments – namely wound pressure therapy, hydrocolloids, hydrogels, foams, collagens and semi-permeable films. A Global Data report studied the existing market conditions for each and how they will evolve over the coming three years.

“In the US a specialised physician administers wound care, which allows for advanced planning of treatment and consistency in practice.”

The landscape is changing

In the US, advanced wound management is the fastest-growing segment in the wound care management market, which is partly driven by the nation's unique approach to complex and chronic wounds.

Whereas in European countries treatment is primarily nurse-based, in the US a specialised physician administers wound care, which allows for advanced planning of treatment and consistency in practice.

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By GlobalData

This more specialised approach to wound healing has led to a moderately high single-digit rate for the US advanced wound management market. The market grew from $423.9m in 2000 to $670.1m in 2007, showing an annual growth rate of 6.8% in that period.

To dissect these figures further, it is the more mature segments of the advanced wound management sectors – such as semi-permeable films and hydrocolloids – that have been displaying low to moderate single-digit growth for several years now. The market's best performer is negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT), which is forecast to continue outperforming other segments. Meanwhile, segments such as polyurethane or silicone foams, hydrofibres, hydrogels and alignates have all performed at or above overall market growth.

A number of other factors have attributed to the rise of the advanced wound management market in the US. A rise in diabetic population, greater cost effectiveness of products and technological advancements have all contributed to the current market conditions.

Furthermore, the introduction of new and revised products in a phased manner, the reimbursement from both private and public insurers, and the increased comfort and expertise of healthcare professionals in administering these products have all also had a strong influence on the acceleration.

Leading the market

Four companies dominate the US advanced wound management sector – Smith & Nephew, Kinetic Concepts, Coloplast and Conva Tec. At present these companies account for more than 60% of the market.

A number of new products were launched by these companies collectively in the last 12 to 18 months which has helped keep their share of the market intact. Most of the latest products, however, were extensions of existing technologies rather then developed from any new technologies.

“Four companies dominate the US advanced wound management sector – Smith & Nephew, Kinetic Concepts, Coloplast and Conva Tec.”

Conva Tec is the undisputed leader in the US market for hydrofibres. Considering the hydrofibres segment has a revenue contribution of about 10% to the overall advanced wound management sector as well as an above average forecasted growth rate, the company seem in a strong position to continue growing.

Meanwhile, Kinetic Concepts has grabbed a significant share of the overall market with its NPWT products. The company's products are principally used in advanced wound healing and tissue repair.

Before 2008, Kinetic Concepts was considered the market leader of the NPWT sector but has since faced stiff competition from Smith & Nephew following its acquisition of Blue Sky Medical in 2007.

Smith & Nephew is also considered the US market leader in the hydrogels segment and the semi-permeable segment. Denmark-based Coloplast has a strong stake in the hydrocolloids market and continues to outperform in the foam and alginates segments. Other promising players in the market include 3M Healthcare, Covidien, Hartmann Group and Ethicon.

While some advanced wound management products have reached a stage of maturity and experience a nominal growth, others face the threat of new technologies replacing existing products. For example, the hydrocolloids market is rapidly being replaced by the alginates and foam products, which has led to a drop in the former product growth category.

One of the key restraints to market growth is the lack of awareness among patients regarding the advantages of advanced wound care products. The industry is also experiencing higher costs in certain types of antimicrobial dressings and NPWT units.

Future trends for wound care

Historically, the advanced wound care market is characterised by rapid changes to technology. The current trend is focused on cell and tissue-based therapies and in particular skin substitutions are emerging as a main alternative for skin grafts. Offering a less invasive form of therapy, skin substitutions also offer the advantage of mimicking the physiology and mechanics of normal skin.

A number of companies have begun to take an interest in this emerging technology and have products pending approvals in and outside the US.

“One of the key restraints to market growth is the lack of awareness among patients regarding the advantages of advanced wound care products.”

In the meantime, polyurethane or silicone foams, hydrogels, alginates and NPWT will continue to grow at or above the market growth rate up to 2012. However, the fight for pole position in the NPWT segment will continue to be fiercely contested between Kinetic Concepts and Smith & Nephew.

Smith & Nephew recently won a case against Kinetic Concepts at the US Court of Appeals, which upheld a trial court judgement that the gauze-based Versatile 1 negative pressure wound therapy system marketed by Blue Sky does not infringe on Kinetics Concepts' patents. This result is likely to open up the market considerably.

3M Healthcare will also position itself strongly in the future following its business agreement with Kinetic Concepts in August 2008.

Kinetic Concepts will now sell its therapy units in tandem with 3M Healthcare's Tegaderm film dressing, thus significantly increasing the products presence in the NPWT market.

The global recession is likely to spark an increase in the number of mergers and acquisitions across the industry. ConvaTec and Ethicon's Professional Wound Care Business was recently acquired by Nordic Capital and One Equity Partners, and going forward into 2012, it is expected that companies will continue selling parts of their business units, particularly those operating in low growth sectors.

In spite of this, the industry has a forecasted annual growth of 9% and by 2012 it seems likely the advanced wound management market in the US will be worth a lofty $1bn.

The report is available to purchase via GlobalData's Report Store