Nevada senator urges VA to use experimental mental health treatment despite physicians' concerns

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, urged physicians from Reno-based Loannis A. Lougaris VA Medical Center to use an experimental addiction and post-traumatic stress treatment from a company linked to one of his senior aids, according to ProPublica.

The experimental treatment method, which relies on electromagnetic brain stimulation, comes from a company called CereCare. The treatment is considered off-label, which means it uses FDA-approved equipment in an unapproved way.

Mr. Heller met with several VA officials and leaders from CereCare last December, since a senior aid in his office had a business connection to the company's leaders. However, the aid said she never had any financial stakes in the company.

The group discussed four veteran patients with mental health problems that could receive the experimental treatment as part of a pilot program, according to ProPublica. Mr. Heller also co-sponsored a bill for the VA to start a pilot program using CereCare's procedure, although no such program ever took shape.

Mr. Heller did not answer ProPublica's questions about the meeting, but issued a statement saying he "will never apologize for supporting policies that could lead to additional treatment options for Nevada veterans because no one who has served this country should be waiting for care once they return from combat."

The Trump administration encourages the VA to use more alternative treatments for veterans with mental health issues. However many physicians and mental health experts discourage the use of using treatment methods that are not scientifically demonstrated to be safe or effective.

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