Changing Form, But Not Function: Smith & Nephew Expands NPWT Market
The drive toward cost-effectiveness and expanded patient access have spurred device developers to take proven therapies or procedures and re-engineer them in ways that make them simpler, less expensive and easier to use. Now, the biggest player in wound care is following suit. In January, Smith & Nephew PLC announced that the FDA had cleared PICO, its new, single-use, pocket-sized negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) system.
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There has been a tendency in the health care products industries to design products that serve the maximum number of patients, in order to create the biggest markets. In pursuit of that all inclusive goal, medical device companies have often overengineered products, adding features - and costs - not necessary for the majority of patients. This has been the case in the field of arrhythmia monitoring. By challenging previous assumptions about arrhythmia monitoring, iRhythm believes it's developed a device that improves the diagnostic efficiency and ultimately the economics of arrhythmia care.
Indicated for many types of acute and chronic wounds, negative pressure wound therapy kicks off many mechanisms useful in wound healing. However, the devices aren't used in all patients for whom they're indicated for reasons that have to do with inconvenience, logistics and quality of life. Spiracur offers the same negative pressure therapy in a small, entirely mechanical, tether-free disposable device that replaces the cumbersome electric pumps that dominate the market today.
Historically, wound care has been a nice tuck-in business for both large medical device and pharmaceutical companies. But that dynamic appears to be changing as advanced technologies are developed that make this sector more attractive as a growth business, evidenced by the large number of recent deals and consolidation going on in this market. The latest example of this trend is the proposed $6.3 billion deal to make publicly traded Kinetic Concepts a privately held company.