Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cyberonics Says Ouch

A CEO switch and a 15% cut in workforce, for starters. Things are not swinging so well at Cyberonics, manufacturer of the vagus nerve stimulator, used to treat severe depression. Concern regarding its efficacy has made VNS use quite infrequent. Cyberonics made my sights due to some clever (and ethically dubious) marketing on behalf of one of its associated academics, Charles Nemeroff. Background here and here.

I've had readers provide numerous comments and send emails on VNS. Suffice to say, it is pretty controversial and there are some who swear by VNS and some who swear at it. The efficacy trials do not paint a generally favorable picture.

Hat Tip: Pharmalot.

3 comments:

Herb said...

Hi CL PSYCH,

Steeped in controversy, that’s for sure.

Then again, after reading some of your site I’m inclined to believe that just about applies to any and all therapies utilized in Psychiatry.

Those that swear of various therapies are the ones who are benefiting. Those that swear at those same therapies obviously did not benefit. I could easily fill your column with swearing at 37 years worth of failed therapies but that is not part of my mental health advocacy and pro-activism. It is to endorse patient education and to encourage hope and persistence.

So while you rightfully knock and share your viewpoints and attempt to educate I live the life of a support person, caregiver and health care advocate seeking wellness through any means possible. So I’ll also encourage, if necessary, the use of witch doctor(s), religion(s), god(s), medication(s), ECT, talk therapy(ies) and/or the VNS Therapy for TRD because I also know the “placebo effect(s)” can also potentially achieve wellness.

So while you’re discussing the controversy of VNS I’d like to share a differing perspective from another professional colleague from that of which you’ve proposed with you and your readership.

Government Should Pay for a New Treatment for a Grave Condition

http://www.vnsdepression.com/pp10-010153-articles_4-9-07-Government-Should-Pay-for-a-New-Treatment-for-a-Grave-Condition.htm

As always, thanks for your attempts to enlighten me. It is appreciated although you do know by now I am not always in agreement with your position or thoughts as seen from my perspective.

Warmly,
Herb
VNSdepression.com


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Herb said...

I apologize to you doc for this additional post as I was interrupted and got side-tracked when writing the previous post.

I also wanted to include and comment upon another of your statements:

“Concern regarding its efficacy has made VNS use quite infrequent.”

Actually it is the reluctance of health insurance companies and CMS which is making it very difficult for patients to obtain this therapy and not the “Concern regarding its efficacy has made VNS use quite infrequent.”

The FDA approved the therapy. There are literally thousands of patients trying to obtain insurance approval for the therapy. There are Psychiatrists prescribing the therapy and there are many patients who obtained and are benefiting from the therapy who along with their doctors no longer have any concern as to its efficacy or for that matter, safety.

Warmly,
Herb
VNSdepression.com


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Herb said...

Well doc,

You stated:

“Things are not swinging so well at Cyberonics, manufacturer of the vagus nerve stimulator, used to treat severe depression.”

Actually I think you should have stated that “Things are not swinging so well for patients who suffer from severe MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).”

http://www.cms.hhs.gov/MCD/viewdecisionmemo.asp?id=195

We can’t use the term TRD (Treatment Resistant Depression) because CMS (Medicare) doesn’t recognize that terminology as it is not listed in the scientific work, the DSM IV (joke).

So CMS has for all intensive purposes killed off this treatment option too and told the patients and the physicians to go back to your drugs “they’ll work” and as I read your condemnations here and those elsewhere of drugs, the drug industry and the questionable research put forth I’m just wondering if anyone is thinking about or concerned with achieving wellness for the patient?

I know I am, but what is there to suggest that is effective for this desperate patient population?

Warmly,
Herb
VNSdepression.com


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