New cloth CPAP mask has 'huge potential'

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MURRYSVILLE, Pa.--With his new “feather light” SleepWeaver fabric CPAP mask, David Groll has gone way outside the box. And now that he recently landed a $150,000 investment, he plans to ramp up his marketing efforts so that people can find him.

“Nobody wears plastic clothes,” said Groll, who used to work on CPAP masks at Philips Respironics. “Nobody would sleep in plastic sheets, but they wear plastic on their face. That is ridiculous.”

So when he started thinking about what kind of a mask would be comfortable and help improve patient compliance, he struck upon the idea of using cloth - a first for CPAP masks.

Groll’s idea held enough merit that the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse - an investment group that supports “biosciences companies with promising innovations” - invested $150,000 in his company, Circadiance, in late 2008.

Peter Allen, the clinical coordinator at Lakenau Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Clinic in Wynnewod, Pa., and a CPAP user, called the SleepWeaver “light and feathery.”

“I feel it has huge potential,” he said. “Since I started using this three weeks ago on vacation, I haven’t used any of my other masks.”

Allen said it takes a few days to get used to the SleepWeaver, but afterward the mask makes falling asleep very easy. He called it an option for people who “are ripping up their faces with their mask or who can’t tolerate any kind of nasal pillow.” Like any mask, it should be fitted by a technician who understands it and can explain the pluses and minuses.

Groll said he’s sold several thousand SleepWeavers since he started marketing them online more than a year ago. Last summer, his company began to promote the $170 device to physicians who treat sleep disorders.

“If we can provide a better mask, then we are going to improve compliance and satisfaction,” Groll said. “That’s another patient the provider is not going to have to deal with.”