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ANTIMICROBIAL BANDAGES
                                                                                           NO . 2       JUNE 2001
         Technology:    Over-the-Counter Antimicrobial Bandages (Acticoat )  ®



      Manufacturer:     Westaim Biomedical Corp. (Exeter, NH / Westaim Corp., Calgary, AB)

            Purpose:    An antimicrobial (antibacterial & antifungal) bandage, originally developed for
                        treatment of burns and chronic wounds, will be modified for consumer or home use.

 Current Regulatory     According to a February news release from Westaim, the company will make a
   Status (in Canada    submission to Health Canada for approval to market the bandages 1. Depending on the
        and abroad):    manufacturer's claims, the product may be considered either a Class II medical device
                        or a drug. Westaim received clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to
                        market this product in February 2001, but it may be up to two years before the over-
                        the-counter product is available on the market.

        Description:    These bandages are intended for consumer use (over-the-counter sale). They
                        incorporate a lower dose of the Acticoat® technology already in use in burns and
                        chronic wound dressings. Acticoat® is a silver-based antimicrobial dressing. Silver has
                        been known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties for centuries. According to
                        the manufacturer this dressing is "effective against over 150 pathogens, including
                        antibiotic resistant superbugs such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
                        (MRSA) and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)."2

               Cost:    The price of the over-the-counter Acticoat® bandages has not yet been determined.

         Evidence of    Although clinical trials of these products for burn and wound care patients have been
 Efficacy and Safety:   conducted, the results of any such trials for the over-the-counter products intended for
                        home use do not appear to be published.

Available Alternative   A variety of non-medicated over-the-counter bandages have been available since the
       Technologies:    invention of the BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandage (Johnson & Johnson) in the
                        1920s. Recently, some bandages have included antibacterial preparations. Others, such
                        as the BAND-AID ® Advanced Healing Strip, incorporate a hydrocolloid-based
                        technology that, according to the manufacturer, "promotes active healing by working
                        with the body's natural healing process to allow wounds to heal more efficiently."3
                        The use of natural products, such as honey, to promote wound healing is also being
                        investigated.

       Commentary:      More versions of medicated consumer bandages are expected. These include bandages
                        that stop itching, relieve pain and stop bleeding. Whether or not these products are
                        beneficial for general consumer use has not yet been shown. There is very little
                        evidence in the published literature that might guide consumers in their use of these
                        products.

                        According to Consumer Reports on Health, "…most cuts and scrapes don't need
                        antibiotic treatment in the first place. It's usually sufficient to clean a wound
                        thoroughly with soap and running water, and then perhaps cover it with a bandage to
                        protect against dirt or friction…" 4




               The Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment (CCOHTA)
          is a non-profit organization funded by the federal, provincial and territorial governments.
ANTIMICROBIAL BANDAGES

    References:     1. Westaim Biomedical receives FDA over-the-counter clearance for Acticoat® products: First Acticoat®
                       antimicrobial bandage for the consumer market [press release]. Exeter, NH: Westaim Biomedical;
                       2001. Available from: URL: http://www.westaim.com/news/index_next.cfm?record_no=132
                    2. Westaim Biomedical receives FDA over-the-counter clearance for Acticoat® products: First
                       Acticoat® antimicrobial bandage for the consumer market [press release]. Exeter, NH: Westaim
                       Biomedical; 2001. Available from: URL:
                       http://www.westaim.com/news/index_next.cfm?record_no=132
                    3. BAND-AID® Brand Advanced Healing Strip: fast, natural healing through hospital-tested
                       technology. New Brunswick, NJ: Johnson & Johnson; 2001. Available from: URL:
                       http://www.jnj.com/innovations/in_advanced_heal.html
                    4. Do you need a better Band-Aid? Consumer Reports on Health 1997;9(7):74.




                             This summary was prepared by Leigh-Ann Topfer and David Hailey; CCOHTA.

                                         The contents of this bulletin are current as of June 2001.
                      This series highlights medical technologies that are not yet in widespread use in Canada and
                     that may have a significant impact on health care. The contents are based on information from
                      early experience with the technology; however, further evidence may become available in the
                       future. These summaries are not intended to replace professional medical advice. They are
                      compiled as an information service for those involved in planning and providing health care in
                                                                  Canada.
                                                       ISSN 1499-108X (online only)




          The Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment (CCOHTA)
     is a non-profit organization funded by the federal, provincial and territorial governments.