The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued a positive Medical Technologies Guidance recommendation for Ethicon Plus Sutures, the first and only sutures with triclosan antibacterial protection recommended for use in the NHS.

Plus Sutures have been shown to reduce the risk of surgical site infections (SSIs) by 30% and subsequently limit the costly and life-threatening complications associated with SSIs.

By lowering the risk of SSIs, Plus Sutures may help the NHS during a time of unprecedented pressure to manage its hospital bed capacity and cope with the significant backlog of elective surgeries postponed during Covid-19.

Governor of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and clinical lead for emergency general surgery Giles Bond-Smith said: “Today’s guidance gives the NHS an opportunity to add a powerful weapon to its arsenal for infection prevention in the hospital setting.

“We can’t afford to be complacent in the fight against surgical site infections, which double a patient’s chance of dying after surgery and are associated with increased length of stay, additional cost, and hospital readmission.”

Plus Sutures are the only sutures with triclosan available worldwide with antibacterial protection offered by triclosan – an antibacterial and antifungal chemical found in hygiene and consumer products

The form of triclosan used in Plus Sutures is called Irgacare MP and is manufactured by German chemicals giant BASF SE. 


The risk of SSIs

SSIs represent a significant economic burden for hospitals.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Patients with an SSI are twice as likely to spend time in an intensive care unit (ICU) and are five times more likely to be readmitted after discharge.

Ethicon, which is a subsidiary of medical device and pharmaceuticals giant Johnson & Johnson, believes Plus Sutures could be an important tool for hospitals by lessening the chance of either of these surgical complications, especially when Covid-19 could still threaten hospital capacity as the UK continues to lift lockdown measures.

Ethicon general manager for Great Britain Nisha Johnson said: “It is critical that surgical site infections in hospitals are minimised to help the NHS successfully tackle the formidable elective surgery backlog caused by Covid-19.

“We are delighted that NICE recognises the vital role Plus Sutures can play in hospital infection prevention measures, with their potential to free up beds in NHS hospitals by lowering readmissions and length of stay.” 


Ethicon Plus Sutures could lead to NHS cost savings

According to Ethicon, the use of Plus Sutures compared to standard non-Plus Sutures would conservatively result in estimated average cost savings of £13.62 per patient if adopted by the NHS,

This, the company believes, will result from a reduction in SSIs and therefore a reduction in the healthcare related costs and resources associated with treating SSIs in a hospital setting.

The NICE guidance recognised that by preventing SSIs, using Plus Sutures results in potential environmental benefits to NHS England, specifically in three areas: greenhouse gas emissions, fresh water use and waste generation.

Ethicon will now apply for an NHS England MedTech Funding Mandate for Plus Sutures.