FDA approves VBLOC vagal blocking therapy for obesity
The FDA has approved medical device company EnteroMedics’ VBLOC vagal blocking therapy, delivered via the Maestro System, for the treatment of adult patients with obesity who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 40 to 45 kg/m2, or a BMI of at least 35 to 39.9 kg/m2 with a related health condition such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, and who have tried to lose weight in a supervised weight management program within the past five years.
The Maestro System is the first new medical device to be approved by the FDA for obesity in over ten years. EnteroMedics anticipates that the device will be available, on a limited basis, at select Bariatric Centers of Excellence in the U.S. this year. The Maestro System has received CE Mark and is listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
"VBLOC Therapy offers an entirely new approach to the treatment of obesity," said Scott Shikora, M.D., FACS, EnteroMedics' chief consulting medical officer. "By blocking signals along the nerves that connect the brain and stomach, VBLOC reduces feelings of hunger and promotes earlier feelings of fullness, which can help people with obesity reduce the number of calories consumed and promote safe, healthy and durable weight loss."
The Maestro System is a pacemaker-like device that is implanted, usually in an outpatient procedure, to control both hunger and fullness by intermittently blocking the primary nerve which regulates the digestive system, the vagus nerve. VBLOC Therapy does not surgically alter or restrict the digestive system, does not create barriers to prevent absorption of nutrients and is completely reversible, allowing patients to lose weight without lifestyle compromises.
"Obesity is a global epidemic with far-reaching cost and consequences to both public and personal health," said Caroline M. Apovian, M.D., FACP, FACN, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, and director, Nutrition and Weight Management at Boston Medical Center. "From diet and exercise to bypass surgery, existing treatment options have failed to stop the advance of this disease. The Maestro System adds a safe and effective new weapon to our armamentarium, offering the patient a treatment option that does not physically restrict or alter the anatomy, and is reversible."
"FDA approval of VBLOC Therapy is a transformational event for not only EnteroMedics and the many supporters who have helped us achieve this milestone but, more importantly, for the people with the disease of obesity that have been waiting for a new option," said Mark B. Knudson, Ph.D., EnteroMedics' president and CEO. "The Maestro System fills a significant gap in the currently available treatment options, offering clinically meaningful weight loss without the fear or many of the side effects associated with existing bariatric options."
Approval of the Maestro Rechargeable System was based on the ReCharge Study, a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the Maestro Rechargeable System in treating obesity. In an intention to treat (ITT) analysis of the study results, VBLOC-treated patients achieved 24.4% excess weight loss (EWL) at 12 months. At 18 months, VBLOC-treated patients maintained a 23.5% EWL. In a responder analysis of the ITT population at 12 months, over 50% of VBLOC-treated patients achieved 20% or greater EWL.
The SAE (severe adverse event) rate, defined as the proportion of subjects in the VBLOC treated group who experienced an implant/revision procedure, device or therapy-related SAE through 12 months post-implant, was 3.7% (n=6; 95% CI: 1.4% to 7.9%) in the ITT population. The most common (>10%) non-serious adverse events related to device, implant/revision procedure or therapy were pain at the neuroregulator site, and transient sensations of therapy such as heartburn/dyspepsia.
VBLOC Therapy is contraindicated for use in patients with cirrhosis of the liver, portal hypertension, esophageal varices or an uncorrectable, clinically significant hiatal hernia; patients for whom magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or diathermy use is planned; patients at high risk for surgical complications; and patients who have a permanently implanted, electrical-powered medical device or gastrointestinal device or prosthesis (e.g. pacemakers, implanted defibrillators, neurostimulators).