MANATEE -- A South Manatee medical application manufacturer is gaining more national retail recognition after a successful product trial with Walgreens.
BioLife LLC has reached a deal to stock its flagship product, WoundSeal, on the shelves of 7,300 Walgreens drug stores across the county -- the successful outcome of a pilot project that first began at stores in Bradenton.
The private company also expects to offer its powder bandage alternative at other U.S. retailers by summer.
The WoundSeal national launch comes at a time when aging Baby Boomers are joining its target demographic at a pace of about 10,000 a day -- with marketing efforts largely geared toward seniors on blood thinning medication.
“Walgreens helped us a lot locally during the product testing, and we felt loyal to them as a retailer,” BioLife CEO Sam Shake said. “They were the first to market, but now it’s time (to branch out).”
WoundSeal is a nonprescription topical powder used for external bleeding wounds. Active ingredients hydrophilic polymer and potassium ferrate work to almost instantly seal a wound and stop the bleeding.
The protective seal remains on the wound until it heals and falls off naturally.
The product was created by accident from two inventors developing water purification technology in 2000. One of them, on blood thinners at the time, noticed a cut on his arm healed much quicker after contact with some of the experimental powder.
BioLife was officially born as a small start-up in 2002, with leased space on Tallevast Road. About a year ago, the company purchased a 22,000-square-foot headquarters on 25th Court East near the corner of U.S. 301 and University Parkway -- where 32 employees now manufacture WoundSeal, package the product and sell it.
Although it works for all cuts, the patented WoundSeal powder is mostly marketed for seniors on blood thinners, who deal with chronic bleeding issues. The company also has created a nose bleed application.
“We tell them they can stop the bleeding and get their life back,” said Andrew McFall, vice president of marketing. “You don’t have to wash the sheets, get the blood off the furniture and spend half of your day trying to control bleeding. You can go out and golf or spend time with your grandchildren.”
For eight years, the product has been used for occupational health. The company has been working with hospitals for the past three years, including Florida Hospital in Orlando. Even the Tampa Bay Lightning rely on WoundSeal to treat player head injuries, according to BioLife officials.
The retail push of the product began with a 50-store Walgreens pilot project in Southwest Florida, ultimately expanding to the Tampa Bay market last spring and the entire state by summer.
It now can be found exclusively on the shelves of 7,300 Walgreens stores in the country. Company officials said they expect the recent expansion to double their operating staff within three years.
BioLife saw sales jump 30 percent from 2010 to 2011, with projections to sell more than 1 million units this year.
The product, which comes with four applications and a plastic travel container, retails for $6.99.
Representatives from Walgreens couldn’t be reached for comment about the product.
“This is where it all began: from Palmetto to Holmes Beach and Lakewood Ranch,” said Nick Wright, director of BioLife’s first aide sales.
“The test was so successful in this general area, it just went viral, and the next thing you know all of these different markets and areas wanted it.”
Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @JoshSalman.