The most prevalent disease in joint health is osteoarthritis (OA), particularly of the knee joint. There are nearly 30 million people with OA in the United States.
One of the characteristics of OA is the degradation of the quality of the synovial fluid in the joint. Synovial fluid fills the joint, bathing the cartilage, cushioning some of the force acting on the surfaces of the joint during motion, and providing lubrication against wear. Synovial fluid derives most of its properties from the presence of HA. Although there are many components in synovial fluid, it is primarily an HA solution. In a joint affected by OA, the molecular weight or size of the HA molecules is significantly reduced.
Viscosupplementation is a treatment that has been shown to alleviate pain and restore motion in affected knee joints. In general, viscosupplementation replaces the synovial fluid to a state more closely resembling that of a healthy joint. During the viscosupplementation procedure, synovial fluid is drained from the joint and an HA solution is injected. This procedure is typically repeated several times over the course of the treatment. Although the HA molecules injected are replaced in the joint over a few days or weeks, the beneficial effects of reduced pain and enhanced function have been shown to last for six months or longer.
ORTHOVISC® is Anika's first HA-based viscosupplement. ORTHOVISC is a high concentration, high molecular weight, ultra-high purity HA formulation, sold in the United States as well as internationally.