Ostomy Supply Manufacturers & Distributors
Finding the right type of ostomy supplies is an essential element for living well with an ostomy. After surgery we leave the hospital wearing a particular brand of ostomy equipment. Many people stay with their initial brand and live happily. However, there is more than one manufacturer of ostomy supplies, as well as more than one way to purchase them. Your WOC (ET) nurse is a good source of information for new products and for supplier recommendations.
Your choice of both product type and place of purchase is limited only by your personal requirements, and in some cases, by your type of medical insurance. Medicare and many HMOs will impose certain restrictions on the purchase of ostomy supplies. If you are on Medicare, an important consideration in choosing a supplier is whether they accept Medicare assignment. Always check with your insurance carrier to determine the details of your insurance. Also see our Advocacy section for more information about Insurance Issues.
Selection Considerations, Problems, and Customized Options
Here are some tips to remember when choosing your type of ostomy supplies:
- Always consult with your ostomy nurse first for information and recommendations for your particular situation.
- Remember that every person is different and you need to find what works best for you.
- You should feel free to experiment with different manufacturers of the same product or different types of products. Call the manufacturer's toll free 800 number and request product samples, or ask your supplier for a sample.
- Check with your supplier for suggestions for new products. Ask if they have an ostomy nurse or other knowledgeable staff available to answer questions.
How to Handle Problems
Problems with your pouching systems generally split into two categories:
- Problem: Defective product - e.g.,
pinholes or tears in pouch material, broken tail clips, damaged
Solution: Contact either the manufacturer or the place of purchase. Request either a refund and/or a replacement product. Write down the lot numbers from the box and return it for new products.
- Problem: Product Incompatibility
- e.g., an allergy to the tape or materials in the wafer or pouch,
leakage due to the wafer not sticking or developing after weight
Solution: Contact your ostomy nurse for trouble-shooting the exact cause, and for finding a better system. If you find you've recently purchased a large amount of a particular product that is no longer appropriate for you, contact the place of purchase for their policies on exchanges or credit. They often will also suggest alternative products to try on a no obligation basis.
Custom-Fitted Pouching Systems
It is sometimes necessary for individuals to have ostomy products (usually the wafer) custom-fitted for their particular situation. Ask your ostomy nurse for recommendations.
Listed below are major manufacturers of ostomy products — e.g., pouches, wafers, etc. Most will send free samples if requested. Many also have an ostomy nurse on staff. For additional manufacturers, check with your ostomy nurse.
- Blanchard Ostomy Products
1510 Raymond Ave.
Glendale, CA 91201
Karaya wafers, pouches, etc. for ileostomy, urostomy.
- Coloplast Corp.
1601 West River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411
Full product line: SenSura, Assura, ColoKids, and full line of accessories.
100 Headquarters Park Drive
Skillman, NJ 08558
Full product line, Sur-Fit Natura, Active Life, Moldable Technology.
- Cymed Ostomy Co.
1440C Fourth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
Full product line including the MicroSkin Ostomy Pouching System.
- EHOB (Non-Adhesive Ostomy Systems)
Ostomy product line acquired by Nu-Hope
(See Nu-Hope contact information below).
- Genairex, Inc.
15371 Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 100
Clearwater, FL 33760
- Hollister Incorporated
2000 Hollister Drive
Libertyville, IL 60048-3746
Full product line: New Image, Premier, Adapt, Pouchkins.
- Marlen Manufacturing &
5150 Richmond Road
Bedford, OH 44146-1331
Full product line: Ultra Duet, Ultra, Skin Shield.
- Nu-Hope Laboratories, Inc.
P.O. Box 331150
Pacoima, CA 91333-1150
Urinary, colostomy, ileostomy pouches, adhesives, etc.
- The Perma-Type Company
83 Northwest Drive
Plainville, CT 06062
860-747-9999 in CT; 800-243-4234 in other states
Reusable appliances for ileostomy, colostomy, urostomy.
- Schena Ostomy Technologies, Inc.
2313 Harrier Run
Naples, FL 34105
EZ-Clean™ Ostomy Pouching System.
- Torbot Group, Inc.
1367 Elmwood Ave.
Cranston RI 02910
Full product line, including customized appliances.
There are three major categories of ostomy supply dealers. Before you choose a particular supplier, you should be aware of the different services and choices each type offers:
- Medical/Surgical Supply Houses - These companies specialize in selling all types of medical supplies. If they focus on ostomy products, they may offer special services such as ostomy nurses on staff, product recommendations, and troubleshooting advice. They will have a large amount of frequently-used supplies in stock, but can also special-order items. You generally purchase products by shopping at their store.
- Mail-order Companies - These companies operate on a national level, similar to any mail-order catalog. Once you receive a catalog, you can place an order by phone or by mail. Due to the large volume of supplies they sell, mail order supply houses often provide a discount on prices. They may also have ostomy experts available for consultation. They do provide an easy way to purchase supplies.
- Local Drugstores - Due to consolidation and specialization in the industry, fewer and fewer chain drugstores will special-order medical supplies, but some of the remaining independent stores often will provide such customized service. They may or may not carry a number of different brands. However, they may charge higher prices due to smaller volume.
Locating a Supplier
There are several different ways to find suppliers of ostomy products:
- Ask your ostomy nurse for recommendations.
- Look in your local Yellow Pages directory under "Medical Supplies," "Surgical Supplies," "Hospital Supplies," "Ostomy Supplies," etc.
- Don't forget to check your medical insurance policy, which may limit the suppliers you can use and still receive reimbursement.
Choosing the Right Supplier
Choosing a particular ostomy product supplier is a matter of individual preference. When shopping for ostomy supplies, as for any consumer product, you can shop for service as well as for price.
Remember that you have rights as a consumer and that you can change your supplier at any time, insurance permitting. The following issues are important to consider when evaluating an ostomy products supplier:
- Range of brands carried - Do they carry only the most popular items, and do they special-order items and new products?
- Price - It sometimes pays to "comparison-shop." Mail-order companies often discount from the list price, but charge shipping and handling costs. Some may not carry products from every manufacturer. Smaller local pharmacies may not be able to discount, may carry less inventory but may provide other services.
- Ease of Use and Accessibility - Is it easier for you to walk or drive to the local pharmacy or pick up the phone and place a catalog order? Will the local surgical supplier or drugstore deliver? If you prefer to purchase only a few items at a time, think about the shipping and handling costs charged per order by mail-order companies. Also, find out how quickly you can obtain a product on an emergency basis.
- Special Services - Ask if there are ostomy nurses or other knowledgeable staff available for consultation and advice, if they provide custom-fittings of pouching systems, and if they will do special orders. Some suppliers are a wealth of information on ostomy products and their use. Remember, it never hurts to ask!
- Insurance Reimbursement - Do they handle direct billing to your insurer? Will they give you appropriate receipts to receive reimbursement if you file the claims yourself? Are they approved by your HMO to purchase supplies from and still receive reimbursement? Do they accept Medicare assignment or charge you the additional difference between the Medicare payment and the list price? (See our Advocacy section for more information on insurance reimbursement issues.)
- Unused Supplies - If your stoma size changes, or you switch to a different brand, find out if you can return your unused products for credit or a refund. Most suppliers will allow this but policies do vary. You could also donate surplus ostomy products through Friends of Ostomates Worldwide to its SHARE program, which sends these supplies to needy ostomates overseas.
- Complaints - Ask how they handle returns or replacements of defective products. Some suppliers may accept them, others may tell you to call the manufacturer directly.
- Accessories - Do they carry pouch covers, belts, waterproof tape, odor treatments, special underwear? These products are sometimes available from local suppliers, but can also be found in mail-order catalogs.
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