The USD 1,111.1 million European wound care market is projected to gradually transition from traditional to advanced wound dressings. While traditional dressings currently dominate the total market, rising awareness of the clinical benefits provided by advanced wound dressings are set to widen their uptake.
Demographics are anticipated to play a key role in overall market growth. An ageing baby boomer generation pursuing an active lifestyle is likely to trigger an associated increase in chronic wounds. This, in turn, is to set to boost demand for wound management products.
Supported by this trend, the total market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.4 per cent for the period 2003-2010 to reach USD 1,975.0 million.
The traditional wound care segment, consisting of low technology wound dressings such as synthetic bandages and gauzes, is expected to slowly expand from USD 566.7 million in 2003 to USD 727.6 million in 2010. In contrast, the advanced wound care market - comprising moist (hydrogels, hydrocolloids, alginates, foams and transparent films), antimicrobial (silver) and biomaterials-based (skin substitutes and tissue-engineered) products - is forecast to register strong growth as it expands from USD 544.4 million to USD 1,229.3 million over the same time frame.
With their ability to provide a moist, conducive environment for improved healing rates as compared to traditional dressings, novel moist dressings technologies are positioned to make particularly strong gains.
Heightened awareness of infection issues is expected to prompt demand for anti-microbial dressings, with silver-based dressings becoming increasingly popular. Active wound dressings including tissue-engineered products, biomaterials and skin substitutes are also expected to develop strongly over the long term.
Enhanced patient outcomes in the form of accelerated wound healing and lessened scarring after burns are poised to underline the appeal of tissue-engineered products. However, greater regulatory clarity is required if the tissue-engineered market is to maximise on its potential. The development of dressings that contain growth factors also holds great promise.
Continued R&D into moist, antimicrobial and biomaterial-based wound management products is set to improve their effectiveness. For instance, next-generation tissue-engineered wound management products are likely to offer superior clinical outcomes. Besides, the inclusion of materials such as collagen, hyaluronic acid and silver into moist wound care products and efforts to combine varied moist wound care technologies are likely to speed healing times.
Despite these innovations, the high costs of new technologies/products are posing a key challenge to market development. "Nevertheless, the prospect of more effectual clinical outcomes, coupled with the significantly reduced total cost of care is poised to promote uptake of premium-priced advanced wound care management products," notes Tanya Pullen, Programme Manager Medical Devices from Frost & Sullivan.
Encouraging the adoption of these new technologies will require manufacturers to prove both the clinical and cost-efficiency of advanced wound management. "Strategies such as performing clinical trials, providing economic evidence and conducting research in partnership with key institutions would help companies establish the cost-benefit case to healthcare providers," says Ms. Pullen.
At the same time, successfully navigating the complex regulatory and reimbursement process in Europe would require manufacturers to lobby regulatory authorities, build relationships with key opinion leaders and implement an evidence based healthcare plan.
Intensifying competition, particularly in the advanced wound dressings segment, is compelling participants to optimally address customer/physician requirements and offer high quality, high performance wound dressings at competitive prices.
Companies are also attempting to gain the competitive edge by becoming more flexible and providing technical, protocol and design support to customers. An emphasis on differentiation is also being seen as critical to market success.
"Greater consolidation through acquisitions and mergers, alliances and partnerships is being seen as a route to gain control of the technologies of the future," remarks Ms. Pullen. "Efforts are also on to offer a one-stop shop facility with some manufacturers promoting a complete portfolio of advanced wound care products all under one brand."