Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Endoscopic Bariatric Surgery Offers Opportunities For Medical Device Providers

It is estimated that by 2014, the weight loss market will be worth 586.3 billion dollars. Further, the United States is expected to be 43 percent of that market. However, to date, no weight loss method provides long-term weight loss without the potential of serious complications. So finding an effective long-term weight loss treatment is the goal of most of those in the weight loss industry.

Of course, the dearth of safe, effective weight loss treatments offers opportunities for medical device providers operating in the weight loss industry. This is especially true for that segment of the bariatric industry focusing on endoscopic bariatric surgery.

Indeed, there are companies working on medical devices for endoscopic bariatric surgery. One of the companies is BioEnterics. This company makes the Intragastric Balloon or BIB system. In this system, a balloon is filled with a saline solution after being placed in the patient's stomach. This balloon gives the patient a feeling of fullness. BioEnterics is based in Irvine, California.

Another company focusing on endoscopic bariatric weight loss devices is BaroNova Therapeutics, Inc, headquartered in Forster City, California. This company is working on a pill that is swallowed or placed in the stomach using an endoscope. The pill expands to make the user feel full.

Power Medical Interventions, Inc. of Longhorne, Pennsylvania, has made a stabling device that can be inserted into the stomach, using the mouth as the entry point. The device can be used to shrink the stomach. And GI Dynamics, a Lexington, Massachusetts company, has developed a sleeve that can be placed in the upper part of the small intestine to mimic the "bypass" part of gastric bypass surgery. The sleeve is called the EndoBarrier™.

Endoscopic surgical methods hold great potential for bariatric surgery. The surgery is less invasive, creating less trauma to the body. If some of the methods described above prove effective, it will be good for the weight loss industry. Further, the surgery could be less costly, enticing more persons who need the surgery to have the surgery. This increased number of persons seeking bariatric surgery would be a boon for bariatric surgery providers, and bariatric surgical medical device providers.
(Please leave a comment by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link at the lower right part of this blog post.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

In the War on Obesity, Two Obesity Drugs Show Promise

As we've said before on this blog, there are three approaches to weight loss and weight management. They are lifestyle change, including diet and exercise; weight loss surgery; and obesity drugs. Each approach has its pros and cons. The most important pro for each of the approaches is that each approach can lead to weight loss. However, the cons are quite troubling.

For example, lifestyle modification is difficult to adhere to on a long term basis. Bariatric surgery is only advocated for severe obesity, plus the surgery produces complications. And obesity drugs have engendered less than stellar weight loss results, while causing serious side effects, including cardiovascular problems and thoughts of suicide. However, there are at least two drugs now in the pipeline that show promise.

The two drugs are Qnexa and Tesofensine. These drugs have shown positive weight loss results. Both of these drugs motivate weight loss by suppressing the appetite. And Qnexa also makes the user feel full. Qnexa is made by Vivus, Inc., a U.S. biopharmaceutical company, and Tesofensine is made by Neurosearch, a Danish biopharmaceutical company.

Qnexa is a combination of two other drugs. One of the drugs is phentermine. Phentermine was the "phen" in the drug combination fen-phen, and Fenfluramine was the "fen." Fen-phen was taken off the market in 1997 because the drug caused severe side effects, including cardiovascular problems. So far, however, Qnexa does not appear to produce fen-phen like complications.

Recent phase ll results for Qnexa have been positive. The side effects seen, so far, include constipation, tingling and nausea. And while Qnexa gave positive weight loss results, the drug also reduced some indicators associated with type 2 diabetes.

Tesofensine was originally developed to treat Parkinsons and Alzheimer's diseases. Although the drug was disappointing in fighting those diseases, it proved helpful in weight loss. And Neurosearch has completed phase ll testing of the drug, and gained FDA acceptance for the drug's phase lll test plans.

Both of the drugs, Qnexa and Tesofensine, have made significant progress. And either one could be an impressive obesity drug. This is especially true for Qnexa, because this drug has the potential to fight both obesity and type 2 diabetes. Of course, we will need to wait for the completion of the planned tests.

With the weight loss industry in need of a safe and effective weight loss drug, weight loss service and product providers should closely monitor Qnexa and Tesofensine phase lll results.

(Please leave a comment by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link at the lower right part of this blog post.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

TOGA Incisionless Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric or weight loss surgery receives media attention, from time to time, because the surgery has shown to be effective in fighting obesity. Recently, a relative new bariatric surgical procedure was highlighted by the ABC network morning show Good Morning America (GMA). The surgical procedure is called Transoral Gastroplasty or TOGA. The TOGA procedure was created by Satiety Inc, based in Palo Alto, California.

TOGA is an incisionless surgical procedure. This means that the surgery is done using natural body orifices and pathways to access organs within the body. The TOGA procedure accesses the inside-of-the-stomach via the mouth and esophagus.

In the procedure, flexible stabling devices are introduced into the stomach, and the devices are used to bring sides of the stomach together so that the sides can be stapled together to create a small stomach pouch. Surgeons, performing the surgery, view their surgical actions inside the stomach using a lighted scope or endoscope.

An early use of the TOGA incisionless procedure was carried out at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, as we reported in one of our August 2008 blog posts. The application of the procedure profiled on GMA was done at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, located in Los Angeles, California. The TOGA procedure is estimated to cost somewhere between thirteen and twenty thousand dollars. And the procedure appears to be similar, in effectiveness, to lap band surgery.

Indeed, Transoral Gastroplasty will prove to be useful if the procedure produces long-term weight loss, while causing fewer complications compared to other forms of bariatric surgery. As indicated above, some U.S. facilities have used the TOGA procedure. Further study, which is ongoing, will determine if the procedure is a viable option for surgical weight loss providers to offer. At any rate, weight loss product and service providers should monitor TOGA study results.

(Please leave a comment by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link at the lower right part of this blog post.)


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