Is new CPAP mask the holy grail or 'another mousetrap'?

Sunday, July 9, 2006

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. - - Teleflex Medical's vice president and general manager, Tim Hopper, isn't shy about talking up the company's "revolutionary" new CPAP mask, the Hybrid.

"We've looked to design a universal mask, and we feel this could be the solution," said Hopper about the combo nasal/oral interface. "You see a lot of new masks that come out on the market and they all seem to be a slight variation on an existing mask. We feel that this is truly a unique product and that is what excited us about its potential."

They Hybrid serves as a nasal interface, an oral interface and a combination of the two. Hopper and Teleflex director of marketing, Jay White, claim the Hybrid comes closer than any mask on the market to being a one-size-fits-all.

Providers, who say they see a new mask from a manufacturer just about every six months, have adopted a wait-and-see attitude--even if Teleflex does describe the Hybrid as "revolutionary."

"Another mousetrap," quiped Mike Marnhout, president of Bluegrass Oxygen in Lexington, Ky.

At the same time, Marnhout and other providers realize patient compliance depends on a mask that fits comfortably.

"If it's a good mask, we're going to have to stock it," said Alan Kirk, vice president of Total Home Health in Elgin, Ill. "But there is only so much room in the warehouse and we already have about 300 feet of rack dedicated to masks. That's a lot."

Competitors acknowledge the Hybrid's novel design, but is it the holy grail of masks? They don't think so.

Invacare Vice President of Sleep Ann MacGregor called the Hybrid "a nice twist on what has been available."

"They'll have their day in the sun," MacGregor said. "There are 45 interfaces in the market and they all have their following. No one mask fits everyone's face or comfort zone."

Teleflex Medical markets healthcare supplies under the Hudson RCI and Rusch brands. The company has signed an exclusive agreement to distribute the Hybrid for RespCare, which developed the product.