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Medical wound care market proves hard work for Comvita

Media release

Thursday 13th January 2005

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Meeting all of the regulatory and product requirements before entering the medical wound care market has taken much longer than anticipated for natural health products company Comvita.

But even with all of the difficulties and the longer time frames to get things done, chief executive Graeme Boyd says the size of the potential market available to Comvita makes the perseverance worthwhile.

The wound dressing market is worth $6 billion world wide.

Boyd says the layers of regulatory controls and requirements in the medical product arena are many and complex, and necessarily so when the stakes are so much higher.

"The good news is Comvita has met all of those requirements, even the stringent controls of the UK's NHS drug tariff system, to now have product available in multiple, and growing, markets around the world."

The impact on the company of delays in getting product to market has been to delay the revenue benefits of being in that market while still having to absorb the development costs.

"That delay had a direct impact on our bottom line result for the year but in effect it is not lost revenue it is delayed revenue," Boyd says.

Comvita medical honey dressings now have the vital CE mark that allows the products to be sold in all European markets.

Boyd says there has been a lot to do.

"We have set in place manufacturing capability with UK-based medical device manufacturer Brightwake. We now have medical manuka honey infused into a calcium alginate fibre - a fibre already accepted by the wound care profession."

He says the products are the practical application of the intellectual property Comvita gained when it bought Apimed and Bee & Herbal.

"We've had to work through complex negotiations with UK-based distributors and ensure everything was perfect from a technical and regulatory point of view."

He says the process was typical of new product launches Comvita regularly undertakes except they learned that in the medical arena things take longer.

"We now know we were optimistic with our forecasts which were based on having the new medical products out in the market earning for us in the second quarter of 2004 when in fact they will not be available until the second quarter of 2005.

As a company Boyd says Comvita has been strengthened by the process.

"We are working to a very clear plan for growth," he says "and we've proved we have the stamina to stay focused on the outcomes we want even when things don't go as quickly as we would have liked."

Boyd says Comvita has a sound strategy and he has a very experienced and capable team putting that strategy into action.

"It's steady as she goes and that's what we like'" he says.

What Are The Dressings?
Research at Waikato University has identified an exceptional antibacterial property in manuka honey called UMF, or Unique Manuka Factor. It is present in some but not all manuka honey. Comvita and its subsidiaries have developed a unique wound care product range by infusing high UMF manuka honey into wound dressings.

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