A Healthesystems publication

Fall 2011

Wound V.A.C. Therapy: Patent Expiration Promotes Competition

Wound V.A.C. (Vacuum Assisted Closure®) therapy, also known as Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT), is commonly used to treat wound injuries for workers’ compensation claimants. This type of therapy assists in wound care, and helps to promote the healing process by working deep inside the wound. The current leading manufacturer of wound V.A.C. devices is KCI.

For years, KCI has held a patent on this device and in turn, has become well established in the hospital industry, where the onset of use for this device typically begins. Recently KCI’s patent on wound V.A.C. technology has expired, leading to increased competitive pressure in the market. KCI remains well entrenched in the hospital industry, with a market share of 83% according to Business Wire, however Healthesystems does forecast a trend towards price decrease for these devices, as companies such as Smith & Nephew begin to gain market share.

There are currently 16 manufacturers who have applied for and received coding assignment from Noridian Administrative Services Pricing, Data Analysis and Coding (PDAC) for Medicare billing. Manufacturers include Smith and Nephew, Medela, Prospera and Genadyne Biotechnologies.

It is interesting to note that wound V.A.C. therapy often does not take a wound to full closure, although it does assist in the healing process and minimizes the size of the wound while drawing wound edges closer together, removing infectious materials and actively promoting granulation at the cellular level.

Alternative treatment options are now available for wound care and include medication regimens as well as oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy, in which oxygen is pulsed into the wound, does result in full closure of a wound. Therefore, it remains important to consider all options for wound care therapy in the treatment of injured workers.

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