Opportunities and Challenges in Advanced Wound Care

Moist Wound Dressings – Opportunities and Challenges in the Advanced Wound Care Market

Even as new opportunities open up in the moist wound dressings market, growth is being stifled by cost-cutting measures in regions with staggering economies.   Clinicians however are faced with the challenge of meeting a rapidly growing demand for advanced wound care products as rates of diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers and surgical wounds rise.

The World Market for Moist Wound Dressings including foams, semi-permeable/ transparent films, alginates, hydrofibers, hydrogels, hydrocolloids and collagen, was over $4 billion in 2010 growing at a CAGR of 4.5 percent over the next few years. This neew report from Marketstrat predicts that growth rates are likely to increase as regional economies begin to recover.

Key Drivers

Rising incidence of chronic wounds (diabetic wounds, pressure ulcers) and acute wounds (surgical); trend toward preventive healthcare; innovative products, availability of reimbursement for most dressings; demand in emerging healthcare markets.

Key Restraints

High costs compared to traditional dressings, shortage of trained staff and facilities in some regions, reimbursement restrictions, competition with other moist dressings, price competition, and complex regulatory approval process for combination products.

Key Product Segments

Largest segment is foam dressings, largest market is the US; fastest growing market is China.

Key Technologies

Hydrofiber® (carboxymethylcellulose) has been the most significant recent innovation; antimicrobial agents such as Ag ions and PHMB are also important advances.  These products as well as composites target the biggest challenges in wound management, namely exudate management and infection management.


Dressings which are combination products, affordable, dressings with broad spectrum antimicrobial agents and agents which promote healing.   Regional segments with greatest opportunities are emerging markets.


Smith and Nephew, Convatec, 3M, Systagenix and Molnlycke followed by Hartmann, Coloplast, Kendall (Covidien) and AMS.

Innovative Niche Players

Covalon Technologies Ltd., Dermasciences Inc., Exciton,  Innocoll Inc., Occulus Innovative Sciences, Inc. and Polyremedy.

According to this report, broad trends in the major product segments are as follows:

Key Market Trends

  • Antimicrobial dressings that can prevent infection or reduce bacterial load in infected wounds are in great demand.   They are effective against MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) and other antibiotic-resistant pathogens.  The most common are silver dressings which actively release silver ions.  Newer antimicrobial dressings with agents like PHMB or activated charcoal are being launched, providing alternatives for patients who cannot tolerate silver.
  • Composite dressings that combine physical and chemical properties of two or more types of moist dressings offer superior functionality, e.g. Versiva gelling foam dressing with Hydrofiber ® from ConvaTec  is a conformable, easy to apply foam dressing with enhanced absorption capacity provided by the Hydrofiber®.
  • Foam dressings, popular for their versatility and affordability are the largest segment accounting for 40% to 50% of the world market in the upcoming years.
  • Semi-permeable film dressings (also known as transparent film dressings) are a slow growing segment in established markets.  Applications as a primary moist dressing are relatively limited, although use as a secondary dressing or integration in a composite wound dressing is growing.
  • Alginate dressings and their higher-end, high-tech counterparts which are the hydrofiber dressings are well known for their exudate-absorption capacity; these segments are expected to grow robustly over the forecast period with manufacturers launching new composites containing these materials.
  • Hydrogel dressings and hydrocolloid dressings, preferred for wound with slough and low levels of exudate will grow at a slower rate.
  • Collagen dressings are new advanced products offering not only a moist wound environment but also promoting active wound healing.
  • Brand to brand variation within the same dressing category appears to be minimal, creating intense competition for most types of advanced wound dressings.  The report provides market estimates and forecasts, competitive strategies, market share of leading companies in addition to discussing technology trends and utilization trends on a global level.

New technology is helping manufacturers stay ahead.  Dressings which actively release silver ions to combat pathogens, new polymers and composites to optimize exudate management. In most regional markets, Foam Dressings is the segment with the highest growth rates due to their versatility and cost-effectiveness.

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