Coming soon: Electric bandages
Want to get ahead in the bandage business? Just add voltage.
(Fortune Small Business) -- It may sound like quack medicine, but electricity can help cuts and wounds heal faster. Studies published in the journal Nature in 2005 confirmed it: Our cells work like tiny chemical batteries. Wounds short-circuit them, and a jolt of voltage helps heal them.
Now a small medical company hopes to cash in, with the world's first over-the-counter electric bandage.
Vomaris Innovations, based in Chandler, Ariz., recently went to market with the Prosit adhesive bandage, which uses microscopic batteries mounted on a flexible membrane to pass a tiny amount of electricity - 1.2 volts - over the affected skin. Though the process isn't understood entirely, Vomaris founder Jeff Skiba, 55, won FDA approval for use of the Prosit in hospitals after an impressive array of clinical trials showed that it jump-started healing for all patients.
"There's no question it works," says James McCoy, a professor of surgery at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Using the Prosit, McCoy saved one patient from a potential amputation and healed another's severe burns.
Skiba, a former medical consultant, founded Vomaris in 2004 after experimenting with the concept in his garage. By 2006 he had the FDA's go-ahead for a prescription version. Several major hospitals are now using the Prosit, including Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic. One big draw is that the electric bandage saves money: Healing a wound using standard dressings costs an average of $1,000 per wound per patient. The Prosit costs hospitals an average of $140 per patient.
Vomaris, with eight employees and sales of less than $500,000 a year, expects to win FDA approval for an over-the-counter version later this year. That seems like a stretch to medical experts such as McCoy, who doesn't think patients should be self-medicating with the Prosit until more research has been conducted. Still, Skiba hopes to distribute the Prosit alongside traditional bandages in pharmacies and big-box retailers.