The Contino concept combines two broad messages – Continence and Continuation. – Together, they convey the benefits of a revolutionary device enabling men suffering from urinary incontinence (UI) to get on with their lives. Robert Orr, CEO of Life360 Innovations Inc. (Life360), expands on this.
Necessity is often quoted as being the mother of invention, but rarely has solving an urgent personal need resulted in an organisation that imagines, develops, manufactures and distributes medical devices and products for men with UI. Contino is a revolutionary, life-changing product, the first of its kind in the world.
The fact that Ken Kunz (at almost 90 years of age, a co-founder of Life360 and the inventor of Contino) still uses the device bears testament to Contino’s credibility, effectiveness and ease of use. Today, Contino has more than 50 international patents associated with it, is supported by a unique distribution channel and is set to enter the EU/UK market in 2021 and to follow suit in the US in 2022.
Below, Robert Orr tells us more about UI, the history and background of Contino’s breakthrough, how it is used, its availability and its envisaged expansion.
In order to recognise the importance of Contino, we first need to understand its purpose. Could you briefly explain the condition known as urinary incontinence and its impacts on the quality of life for male sufferers?
UI is a distressing and complex medical condition that has a significant impact on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
The types of UI vary and include – urgency incontinence, where the patient has a sudden need to urinate, followed by accidental leakage; – stress incontinence, brought on by pressure or movements such as coughing; – functional incontinence, owing to physical disabilities or obstacles that hinder the sufferer in reaching the toilet in time; or – temporary incontinence, resulting from a short-term condition, an infection, or a side effect of medication. Regardless of the type of UI, the negative impacts to the UI sufferer are severe and can result in a loss of dignity, embarrassment, lack of ease in social situations, deterioration of self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
Would it be fair to say that, to date, there has been a lack of products on the market to help alleviate UI symptoms?
UI sufferers have always had to manage their symptoms in a manner that suits their individual lifestyle and there are distinct disadvantages to the products readily available. Disposable pads or briefs, penile clamps and collection devices are examples of available products that are bulky, environmentally unfriendly, embarrassing to use and may cause allergic reactions, skin irritation or discomfort. Further, they fail to fully address the issues of dignity and restoration of confidence, which we believe are major drivers for the Contino offering.
Dignity is a fundamental value at the core of Life360. How does dignity manifest itself in your organisation and brand?
Contino captures the very essence of sympathy, empathy and dignity. Having been borne out of a personal need, rather than merely filling a gap in a medical market, gives a unique edge to our offering. As a pioneer who invented an effective remedy for his own situation, Ken Kunz has chosen to share his remedy with the world, enabling fellow sufferers to gain from his personal experience and expertise. Ken understands the stigma associated with UI and realised that his brainchild could improve others’ mental and emotional wellbeing, self-esteem, confidence and dignity. Contino, as a non-surgical, personalized and self-managed bladder leakage solution, reflects dignity and provides the independence to live life to its fullest.
Perhaps an unlikely entrepreneur, how did Ken’s remarkable invention, Contino, come into being?
It’s a progressive journey, which started out when I supported my friend, Ken, my co-founder with the business side of launching his personal incontinence device on to the market. Having suffered from UI following cancer surgery, he had developed and was using his own personal device with great success. Initially we focused on the filing and prosecution of the first US patent, but over time I put together a programme to develop the opportunity for the product more fully to transform the prototype into a licensed medical device – partnering with the MAKE Group from the British Columbia Institute of Technology. After much experimentation and learning, including 10,000+ hours of research/development and verification/validation as well as clinical testing in a multi-site, multi-year clinical study, today’s Contino solution evolved. Contino is a non-surgical, self-administered medical device that is inserted into the urethra and removed prior to urination. It is easily cleaned before reinsertion, or storage, and each device can be used for up to 30 days. Ken boasts of having made over 15,000 urethral removals and insertions – without any infections, discomfort or complications. He is proud to have the opportunity to give his fellow male UI sufferers an opportunity to also gain their lives back.
More than merely a device, the Contino brand is an integrated solution that includes personalised fitting and support, delivered by Contino authorised trainers from a broad network of clinics. Could you tell us about the process for receiving Contino and the costs involved?
Contino is currently available in Canada through an expanding network of Contino Authorised Clinics, owned and operated by independent medical professionals (i.e. physiotherapists, nurses, doctors) experienced in treating UI. The process starts with having a personal assessment consultation that includes personalised observations about their condition – and may include suggested behaviour modifications and exercises to help manage their UI. If Contino is right for the individual, they will be fitted and start a refundable one-month trial period that will teach them how to use the device and provide them with support through telephone and in person follow-up visits. Following the one month period, Contino becomes available as a subscription service, with three months of products shipped directly to customer each quarter. The current cost is $300 per quarter.
We are currently in the midst of officially launching Contino in British Columbia and currently have 9 incontinence clinic partners in BC, with discussions underway with several others in BC. We are also continuing with enrollment into our Post Market Clinical Follow-up Study, with multiple sites in Toronto, Ontario, and plan to have at least 75 clinics across Canada in short order.
Onboarding and training new partner clinics, implementing regulation compliant systems and building a worldwide consumer brand feature heavily in your ongoing targets. What are the expansion plans for the Contino bladder control solution?
Canada is our initial focus, however, we have established a platform to expand globally. For example, we have made significant investments in an ISO 13485:2016 quality system that is compliant with strict Canadian, EU and US regulations and have a scalable enterprise resource platform, as well as a scalable and established manufacturing process. All of the foregoing is well covered by international brand and intellectual property protection.
As noted above, we plan to significantly increase the number of authorised clinics across Canada in the relative short-term. However, UI knows no borders and its prevalence worldwide is staggering, with an estimated 420 million UI sufferers worldwide (1/3 male). The potential is vast and growing, as baby boomers age and live longer. By way of reference, the Canadian Continence Foundation estimates that approximately 3.5 million Canadians suffer from some form of UI, approximately 10% of the population. Europe and the United States represent target markets that are more than 15 times and 12 times that of Canada respectively. We plan to make strong inroads into those markets over the next couple of years. We also plan to establish partnering arrangements in Japan, China and Korea and have preliminary designs underway for an equivalent female device.
Contino and its complementary devices are licensed as Class II medical devices by Health Canada (Class IIb in EU). Additional information on Life360 Innovations Inc. can be found on the company website – https://Life360innovations.com/ and further information on UI and Contino, including how it works, testimonials, authorised clinics, detailed FAQs and contact points can be found at https://mycontino.com/.