Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Biotech’s glamour wears off as patients see gadgets as the norm

The heyday of glitzy presentations that wow crowds with the latest biotech gadgetry is to some extent still upon us.But Pratik Patel of Brainsway, a medical device company with the sort of high-tech solution that catches the eye, says the initial glamour of once-unthinkable health care technology is wearing off.

“People are starting to seem less interested in the sizzle (of new gadgets),” he said. “They’re still interested in innovation, but as we move into this new age of man and machine, people are seeing it more as a norm.

“Perhaps it’s that people are somewhat more skeptical now. They want to see the data and talk to real patients about how new treatments will really affect them.”

In light of this trend, Brainsway doesn’t focus solely on marketing its technology, referred to as Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, as inherently exciting — even as futuristic as it sounds to have a device that creates a magnetic field to stimulate nerve cells in particular areas of the brain.

To increase transparency, the company turns to venues such as Facebook Live, where it recently hosted an open conversation with a patient diagnosed with depression to talk about his experience with Brainsway’s technology.

Patel, marketing director for Brainsway North America, said testimony is increasingly important in a time of fatigue with high-tech.

“We want to share compelling, real stories,” he said. “There are people who could have spent years trying to find the magic cocktail … but we see remarkable results adding Brainsway’s (technology) to their treatment.”

The technology of Brainsway, which moved its U.S. headquarters from Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, to Hackensack last year, operates by stimulating the brain with electromagnetic pulses using a magnetic H-coil that that fits in a padded helmet. Patients wear the helmet over their head while the system runs for 20 minutes.

The in-office, noninvasive procedure is repeated for five days a week over the course of a month, then is continued two times a week for a total of at least 36 treatment sessions.

The procedure was cleared by the FDA in 2013 and indicated to have efficacy as a noninvasive for the treatment of major depressive disorder after a three-year clinical trial involving 18 sites in the U.S., according to Patel.

With the caveat that patient outcomes can vary, the company’s officials state that its clinics observe that three out of four patients feel better after treatment, responding positively, and more than half are symptom-free or in remission from major depressive disorder.

Brainsway has outpatient clinics in New Jersey and other states that offer this therapy, which Patel said is covered by many insurance providers, including Medicare and Tricare.

Brainsway is also investing in a research and development pipeline that involves active clinical trials studying the potential of its applications for obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and smoking cessation.

As far as competitors: There are a handful of other vendors offering devices that use the same basic technology, Patel said, but with some differences. Patel views the points of differentiation in Brainsway’s technology as novel.

The company, which went public on the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange back in 2007, announced in a recent financial report that it brought in a total of $11.5 million in revenue last year through its U.S. subsidiary, an increase of about 70 percent from the year prior.

And, although there may not be the same unwavering fascination or credulity with the promise of the latest health care tech tools, Patel believes that a new era in brain disorder treatment is getting underway.

“There are some innovative neurotech companies, including ours, that are really pursuing one of our last frontiers — the brain,” he said. “We are learning about the brain at a rapid pace. … And it really has the potential to fundamentally change patients’ lives.”

Brett Johnson

NJBIZ Business Events