Snapshot: Advanced Wound Management

A flood of innovation in the treatment of chronic wounds has boosted competition in a traditionally fragmented market. With sky-high diabetes and obesity rates, and growing numbers of hospital-acquired infections also expected to influence growth in woundcare, hospital-management takes a snapshot in an attempt to predict a course for a growing sector.


Wound healing is a predictable sequence of cellular and chemical events, which occurs in overlapping phases, characterised by the specific cell types present and the chemicals being expressed. An optimal cellular working environment facilitates this activity - and advances in this science have greatly influenced a number of important breakthroughs in recent years.

Advanced wound dressings include semi-permeable films, foams, hydrofibres, hydrocolloids, hydrogels, alginates and collagen, and have been boosted by new approaches to antiseptics and pain control dressings, which provide comfort as well as healing.

In this market snapshot we draw on GlobalData's team of industry experts and the recent "Advanced Wound Management - Global Pipeline Analysis, Opportunity Assessment and Market Forecasts to 2016" report to chart the landscape for an industry expected to grow by more than a billion dollars within five years.

Forecast to exceed $3.5bn by 2016

The global market for advanced wound management devices was valued at $2.7bn in 2009, and is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.5% to reach $3.7bn in 2016. The market is expected to be driven by an increasing prevalence of diabetes and obesity, an aging population, patient awareness and a rise in hospital-acquired infections.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the overall prevalence of diabetes in the US is 23.6 million. About 15% of this diabetic population develops diabetic foot ulcers and 7% of the people with diabetic ulcers require amputation.

"An optimal cellular working environment facilitates wound healing."

Approximately three million adults in the US suffer from pressure ulcers every year. During hospitalisation, about 15% of the elderly are likely to develop pressure sores and it is estimated that venous stasis ulcers affect 500,000-600,000 people in the US every year making it the most common type of leg ulcer. Globally, the incidence of venous leg ulcers is about 2.5 million and venous stasis ulcers are 1.5 to three times more common in women than men.

Boost from technological development and strong pipeline

The latest technology dressings for advanced wound management not only maintain the optimum moist environment for the wounds, but also facilitate the sustained release of an antiseptic agent at the wound surface in order to provide a long-lasting antimicrobial action.

Iodine and silver are incorporated into a variety of dressings such as foams, hydrocolloids, alginates, collagen, and hydrofibres to facilitate the healing process. In Europe, a dressing was recently introduced by Coloplast called Biatain Ibu, which has the ability to control the pain at the wound site through the release of ibuprofen at the wound surface.

Certain advanced woundcare products have been developed that use ingredients such as activated charcoal and cyclodextrins are incorporated in the wound dressings.

A highly fragmented market

The global market for advanced wound management devices is highly fragmented with numerous players. In 2009, Smith & Nephew, 3M Health Care and Systagenix Wound Management were the leading players in the global advanced wound management devices market with a combined share of 36%.

Smith & Nephew was the market leader with a 15% market share. The leadership of these three companies can be attributed to their extensive portfolio of leading products, strong distribution channels, strategic selling to decision-making groups, educational workshops and events, and extensive marketing communication.

Europe remains the largest market

The European advanced wound management devices market is expected to reach $1.6bn in 2016, growing at a CAGR of 5% from 2009 to 2016. The market in Europe is expected to be driven by patient demographics, emerging technologies, lifestyle factors and patient awareness and expectations.

"The global market for advanced wound management devices was valued at $2.7bn in 2009."

The advanced wound management devices market in Germany, France, Italy and Spain grew at a CAGR of more than 10% between 2002 and 2009.

The main reason for Europe being a bigger market for advanced wound management devices is that reimbursement in the US is based on unit costs of wound dressing, rather than on the total costs of healing a wound.

Other reasons include rising concerns regarding infected wounds and heightened awareness about the benefits of incorporating silver into wound dressings, in terms of reducing healing time.

Foams to be the fastest-growing segment

The global market for foams was valued at $949m in 2009, and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 6.8% to reach $1.4bn in 2016. Foams are forecast to be the biggest and fastest-growing category in the advanced wound management devices market. In countries such as the UK and Germany, the foams markets are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 7.5% and 8% respectively.

There are numerous advantages that have made foams the best choice as wound dressings:

  • they do not stick to the wounds
  • they do not allow contaminants to settle in the wound bed
  • they are easy to apply and remove
  • they absorb exudates effectively, even when drainage is heavy
  • they can be left on the wounds for a longer period of time, making them cost effective
  • they can be used with compression
  • they are comfortable for the patient.

Diabetes and obesity to drive the market

About 24 million people in the US, adults and children, have diabetes. About 15% of this diabetic population develops diabetic foot ulcers at some point and 7% of these have leg amputations. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 366 million people worldwide and 30 million people in the US will have diabetes by 2030.

"Iodine and silver are incorporated into a variety of dressings to facilitate the healing process."

Apart from the US, countries such as India, China and Brazil are also expected to have very high diabetic foot ulcer prevalence in the near future. In a study conducted by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS), it was found that obese people are much more likely to develop foot ulcers compared with non-obese people. According to the WHO, about 1.6 billion adults were overweight worldwide in 2005 and about 400 million adults were obese. By 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese.

With low vascular activity in adipose tissue, obese people are at a higher risk of pressure ulcers. The inability of obese people to reposition themselves in bed acts as a precursor for pressure-related injuries.

In addition to this, skin folds on their body are perfect homes for micro-organisms. These micro-organisms then cause the breakdown of skin resulting in ulcers.

Growing number of hospital acquired infections

According to the CDC, US hospitals alone account for 1.7 million healthcare associated infections and 99,000 associated deaths annually. 22% of these infections are surgical site infections (SSI). Hospital-acquired infections are the sixth-leading cause of death in the US and cost the healthcare industry $6bn annually. The highest frequency of hospital acquired infections is found in the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia regions.

More details on the full GlobalData report.

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