A Mackay hospital is testing a new drug for patients suffering from non-healing wounds.

The Mackay Institute of Research and Innovation is among several Australian sites working with US company Vapogenix, to test the as-yet-unnamed topical medication.

“Of all the other unpleasant things that come with a wound, pain is the number one problem,” said Dr Heather Giles, chief scientist of the Houston-based firm.

“For me it's very exciting, because there really is very little out there at the moment that can help these patients.

“Many of the pain medicines that are being used routinely now have been on the market for 30 years or more and they all come with some very serious side effects for some patients.”

Vapogenix says the drug is not addictive, is based on codeine or opioids and was not addictive, but has not given further details.

Mackay Institute of Research and Innovation clinical director of surgery Dr Frans Pretorious says it is very exciting for the regional facility to be able run this kind of trial.

“What it does for the region and for the hospital is that it encourages more research, but it's also good for the junior doctors,” he said.

“When we get applications for people who are going to come and work in Mackay, one of the first questions they ask is do we do research.

“We are a small unit, and it does take extra time and commitment from the staff.

“The wound care nurses are really fantastic. They love what they do and the new challenge and advancement on the research frontier,” Dr Pretorious said.