Drawing Our Boundaries

April has been a busy month for the staff of Neurotech Reports. In the weeks following our Second Annual Bioelectronic Medicine Forum held in New York City earlier this month [see Conference Report, p7], we’ve put the finishing touches on our new market research report, The Market for Bioelectronic Medicine: 2020-2025 [see article, p3].

One of the challenges in generating the data for this report has been determining which products and which clinical indications fit within the realm of bioelectronic medicine, an issue we’ve raised in this space before. Trouble is, the term still means different things to different people so publishing meaningful market projections requires us to adhere to a consistent and well defined taxonomy of market segments.

As could have been expected, this subject came up at the Bioelectronic Medicine Forum. Jeff Erb from Medtronic stressed the importance of end-organ modulation. “What I think is different about bioelectronic medicine is end-organ modulation. We’re replacing what the pharma companies are trying to do with systemic drug delivery, using the body’s own mechanisms,” he said. Adam Fine from Windham Venture Partners said that investors are less concerned with terminology and more concerned with the indication being addressed. “We look at it as a device or as a procedure,” he said. Evan Norton from Abbott Ventures sounded a similar note, contending that what’s important in a sales context is how you’re positioning the technology to the people you need to convince. “I say use the term when it suits you for the audience you’re trying to sell to,” he said. An informal poll of the audience at the conference revealed that about 40 to 50 percent of attendees considered chronic pain, epilepsy, stroke, and other neurological disorders to be within the realm of bioelectronic medicine.

Our solution to the dilemma of deciding what to count and what not to count was to offer two sets of data—one detailing worldwide sales of bioelectronic medicine systems for core indications that affect an end organ and the other forecasting the market for an expanded range of indications for neurological disorders such as pain and epilepsy.

It may well turn out to be the case that the terms bioelectronic medicine and neuromodulation will morph into the same thing. But for the time being, we think it is useful to highlight the physiological, technological, and market factors that make stimulation that affects visceral organs unique. For example, the advent of bioelectronic medicine has introduced the intriguing idea of pricing therapy by the dose, as opposed to selling the hardware to a clinic or patient up front.

We hope that readers of this first edition of our new market research report will gain a greater appreciation of the profound potential that bioelectronic medicine offers to the future of healthcare.

James Cavuoto
Editor and Publisher


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