The Skinny on Obesity Products
The total obesity products market, including drugs and device, is projected to reach more than $1.6 billion by 2010, growing at a compound annual rate of 36.1%. Success in this arena will depend on whether emerging drugs and devices can live up their hype and deliver the results needed to achieve regulatory approval and marketplace acceptance.
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With soaring medical costs weighing heavily on the US economy, it's not surprising that obesity has become a target in the health care reform debate. Obesity is costly because it significantly increases the risk of many chronic diseases. Exercise, dieting and prescription drugs have had a limited effect in stemming the tide of obesity, leaving bariatric surgery and other interventional techniques as the primary treatment options for this potentially multi-billion dollar market. But device manufacturers have a challenge ahead of them--to develop more effective, safer, and less invasive obesity therapies that will not only result in long-term weight loss, but will also cut treatment costs and better manage comorbidities.
Researchers have recently discovered that Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery is a very effective tool for improving-and sometimes completely reversing-type 2 diabetes. Medtech interviews Francesco Rubino, MD, chief of gastrointestinal metabolic surgery at Cornell University's Weill Cornell Medical College, who is at the forefront of a new subspecialty in bariatric surgery called diabetes surgery. He and his group are studying exactly how bariatric surgery succeeds in reversing type 2 diabetes.
It's not often that a company in the medical device industry, where most new products offer incremental innovation, has a chance to change the world. Start-up GI Dynamics does, though. Shooting for a non-invasive device that would replicate some of the benefits of the invasive Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery in obesity, it discovered that an endoscopically delivered implant appears to be extremely effective in type 2 diabetes, as is the predicate gastric bypass. Simple and non-invasive, the technology is potentially disruptive by reversing the disease, not just managing its symptoms. (See also the sidebar to this article: "A Mechanistic Look at Diabetes Surgery: An Interview with Francesco Rubino." )