Rehab Management recently had the opportunity to interview Carolina Facciani, marketing manager, urology, for Astra Tech Healthcare (www.astratech.us), Torrance, Calif.
Rehab Management (RM): Tell us briefly about Astra Tech’s history.
Carolina Facciani: Astra Tech, the medical device subsidiary of AstraZeneca, has two divisions in the United States: dental and urology. The urology division comprises one product line, the LoFric hydrophilic intermittent catheters. The LoFric brand has been on the US market for more than 25 years, and it was the first hydrophilic intermittent catheter in the world. Astra Tech invented this technology in 1983 to make catheterization comfortable and less traumatic for users.
RM: What are the primary considerations when developing products for urinary incontinence?
Facciani: Our first and foremost consideration is the catheter user. We continually strive to improve our packaging to make it more convenient and user-friendly. We recently launched a Web-based survey tool that connects us with catheter users around the world. We will look to users to help us develop future products.
RM: Can you provide an overview of LoFric product lines?
Facciani: The standard LoFric is our original packaging. The LoFric Primo comes with a sterile water pouch and an integrated handling strip for no-touch catheterization. The LoFric Hydro-Kit includes a sterile water pouch, the same no-touch handling strip, and a 1,000-ml urine collection bag. All are latex free.
RM: Describe the technology behind these products, and what makes them unique to the industry.
Facciani: The LoFric catheters are equipped with patented Urotonic® Surface Technology, a unique surface layer that reduces urethral friction by more than 90% compared to conventional catheters used with gel. Most of the gel applied to conventional catheters comes off when the catheter is inserted, leaving the distal urethra unprotected. With LoFric, no gel is needed—only water—and it works by matching the urethral environment. This allows the surface layer to stay intact during the entire catheterization, protecting the sensitive urethral tissues from trauma. LoFric is also the only hydrophilic intermittent catheter proven to reduce long-term urethral complications, such as strictures and false passages. LoFric has also been proven to reduce the risk of UTIs, and it is the only hydrophilic catheter in the world with more than 25 years of clinical documentation.
RM: Are LoFric products reimbursable? If so, what are the guidelines?
Facciani: Yes, LoFric products are reimbursable, and the guidelines are the same for all intermittent catheters—they are billed using the same Medicare/Medicaid HCPCS codes. Providers of medical supplies are reimbursed the same amount for all catheters. The designated codes for intermittent catheters: A4351 for straight tip catheters, A4352 for coudé tip catheters, and A4353 for straight tip catheters with insertion supplies. Reimbursement amounts vary by state, but our competitive pricing allows LoFric to be accessible to almost everyone.
RM: What are Astra Tech’s goals for the upcoming year?
Facciani: We want to continue educating people about the benefits of LoFric. In this country, there are still hundreds of catheter users who have never heard of a hydrophilic catheter.