Hey, remember that nerve implant I blogged about a few weeks ago? News!
First to catch you up in case you don’t feel like clicking that link: this implant was originally designed for epileptics, but the company wanted the FDA to approve it for use as a cure for depression, despite the fact that they had no solid evidence that it worked for that. Science advisors to the FDA unanimously disapproved of the device, but one man overruled them all to push it through.
Aetna, an insurance provider, has decided the $15,000 device will not be covered for use as a cure for depression. Only 183 of 800 providers currently cover it, and even then it’s usually only allowed on a case-by-case basis. (Here’s the NY Times article about it.) This is seen as a pretty major blow to Cyberonics, the maker of the device, and it’s already showing in the stock price. The people who are hurt the worst by the entire ordeal are those who are dealing with severe depression, since they’re sick and desperate and may look at this device as their last hope. I don’t blame Aetna, though, for causing the damage — I blame Cyberonics. If only they would do the necessary research to prove that this device works, then researchers could approve it, insurers would cover it, and patients would benefit from it. Instead, the company is dicking around with their numbers in the same manner as quacks like homeopaths.
If it works, prove it. Maybe Cyberonics will take that to heart now that their fishy tactics are affecting the bottom line.