Sales stall for medical device designed as opioid alternative

Although concern for opioid abuse has not waned in 2019, sales of implantable medical devices that can be used as an alternative solution to chronic pain have, according to the Star Tribune.

Neuromodulation devices use electricity to treat chronic pain and have interested physicians looking for a nonaddictive long-term therapy for pain relief. The devices are generally thought to change the way the brain processes pain by interfering or blocking signals as they travel up the spinal cord.

Medtronic, Abbott Laboratories and Boston Scientific, as well as smaller companies that focus on neuromodulation, have offered many theories on the slowdown in sales, according to the Star Tribune.

A spokesperson from Boston Scientific, Rochelle Silsbee, told the Star Tribune that physicians say insurers are taking longer to authorize implants of neurostimulators, and a lack of new device launches or fresh clinical data could also be factors contributing to a slowdown.

However, Ms. Silsbee added that the company believes the slowdown is temporary. No one in the industry thinks the demand for the devices is declining among eligible patients, the Star Tribune reported.

A BMO Capital Markets survey of 25 physicians conducted earlier this year indicated that the market for neuromodulation devices is still healthy and that volume trends are "steadily increasing," BMO analyst Joannae Wuensch wrote in a note to investors.

Read the full report here.

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