Health Economics

Health Economics

The clinical efficacy of Dermacell AWM is supported by a growing number of peer-reviewed, clinical publications. The clinical efficacy of competing grafts has also been shown in the literature. However, information on cost-effectiveness of those grafts has been lacking. Using the most recent cost data, a meta-analysis determined that higher cost does not necessarily correlate with higher rates of healing. Dermacell AWM is an option that is not only clinically efficacious, but cost-effective too.

Eight Skin Substitutes

Health Economics for treatment of diabetic foot ulcers: a cost-effectiveness analysis of eight skin substitutes

Two Skin Substitutes



Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) with exposed bone or tendon can be difficult to heal. These recalcitrant wounds can create an economic burden because they often require multiple treatment applications. New research is needed to identify cost-effective solutions. Both D-ADM* and vCHPM^ have shown success in treating bone-exposed ulcers. This health economics analysis compared the cost of each skin substitute using CMS cost schedules.


DFU healing rates and the number of applications needed to achieve healing were retrospectively obtained from two similar studies.1,2 The cost of healing one DFU in a hospital outpatient department (HOPD) was calculated using [(# of Applications)*(Bundled HOPD payment + Physician Payment)].

The cost of healing one DFU in a physician’s office was calculated using [(# of Applications)*(Product Cost per Application + Physician Payment)]. Treatment costs for HOPD were extracted from Quarter 3 2018 CMS Addendum B OPPS Payment using CPT code 15275. Skin substitute cost was calculated using October 2018 Medicare Average Selling Price for vCHPM and invoice cost for D-ADM.3 The smallest graft size needed to cover a 5 cm2 wound was used for calculating cost.


The ulcer areas were comparable, with 13.7 cm2 and 14.6 cm2 for D-ADM (n=22) and vCHPM (n=27), respectively. At 16 weeks, D-ADM had a healing rate of 59.1% with a mean 1.0 application needed to achieve healing. vCHPM had a healing rate of 59.3% with a mean 9.0 applications needed for healing. The average cost of healing a single DFU in a HOPD was $1,667 for D-ADM compared to $15,007 for vCHPM. The mean cost of healing a single DFU in a physician’s office was $1,811 for D-ADM compared to $31,129 for vCHPM. Despite the equivalent healing rates, vCHPM cost 9-17 times more on average to heal complex DFUs compared to D-ADM.

*Dermacell AWM® (LifeNet Health, Virginia Beach, VA)

^GrafixCORE® (Osiris Therapeutics, Inc, Columbia, MD)

Brian Samsell, LifeNet Health, Virginia Beach, VA
Shawn Cazzell, DPM, FAPWCA, FAPWH, Limb Preservation Platform, Fresno, CA
Peter Moyer, DPM, FACFAS, AAPWCA, Purvis-Moyer Foot and Ankle Center, Rocky Mount, NC


1. Frykberg RG, Gibbons GW, Walters JL, Wukich DK, Milstein FC. A prospective, multicentre, open-label, single-arm clinical trial for treatment of chronic complex diabetic foot wounds with exposed tendon and/or bone: positive clinical outcomes of viable cryopreserved human placental membrane. Int Wound J. 2017;14(3):569-577.

2. Cazzell S, Moyer P, Samsell B, Dorsch K, McLean J, Moore M. A Prospective, Multicenter, Single-Arm Clinical Trial for Treatment of Complex Diabetic Foot Ulcers with Deep Exposure Using Acellular Dermal Matrix. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2019. In Press.

3. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. #100-04 Medicare Claims Processing Manual. Chapter 17 - Drugs and Biologicals. Section 20.1.3. 2017.