Implant to treat chronic depression


THE US Food and Drug Administration said it might permit an implantable electrical device for the treatment of epilepsy made by Cyberonics to also be marketed as a therapy for chronic depression that is resistant to other treatments.

The agency set a number of conditions on the tentative approval, and Cyberonics said it hoped to meet them before the end of May.

Cyberonics, based in Houston, said 4.4 million Americans suffer the severe and recurring forms of depression that might be treated with the US$15,000 device.

” If it is adopted for depression at the same rate as it has been for epilepsy, we will pass US$1 billion in sales by 2010,” said Robert Cummins, the chairman, chief executive and president of the company.

Some doctors said the market might not be as large as the company estimated because many severely depressed patients do not receive treatment, and others do not complete the courses of drugs and other treatments required before the implant could be considered.

The device, which is called the VNS Pulse 102 and is the size of a pocket watch, is implanted in the upper chest and connected via thin wires to the vagus nerves in the neck.

It sends pulses through the nerves into parts of the brain associated with the diseases being treated.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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