FDA approves new obesity device

January 15, 2015

FDA approved the Maestro Rechargeable System, the first weight loss treatment device that targets the nerve pathway between the brain and the stomach that controls feelings of hunger and fullness.

FDA approved the Maestro Rechargeable System, the first weight loss treatment device that targets the nerve pathway between the brain and the stomach that controls feelings of hunger and fullness.

MRS, manufactured by EnteroMedics in St. Paul, Minn., is also the first FDA-approved obesity device since 2007.

“Obesity and its related medical conditions are major public health problems,” said William Maisel, MD, MPH, deputy director for science and chief scientist in FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Medical devices can help physicians and patients to develop comprehensive obesity treatment plans.”

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MRS is approved to treat patients aged 18 years and older who have not been able to lose weight with a weight loss program, and who have a body mass index of 35 to 45 with at least 1 other obesity-related condition, such as type 2 diabetes.

MRS consists of a rechargeable electrical pulse generator, wire leads and electrodes implanted surgically into the abdomen. It works by sending intermittent electrical pulses to the trunks in the abdominal vagus nerve, which is involved in regulating stomach emptying and signaling to the brain that the stomach feels empty or full. “Although it is known that the electric stimulation blocks nerve activity between the brain and the stomach, the specific mechanisms for weight loss due to use of the device are unknown,” FDA said in a statement.

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External controllers allow the patient to charge the device and allow healthcare professionals to adjust the device’s settings, in order to provide optimal therapy with minimal side effects.

The safety and effectiveness of the MRS were evaluated in a clinical trial that included 233 patients with a BMI of 35 or greater. The weight loss and adverse events of 157 patients who received the active Maestro device (the experimental group) were compared to 76 patients in the control group who received a Maestro electrical pulse generator that was not activated.

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The study found that, after 12 months, the experimental group lost 8.5% more of its excess weight than the control group. About half (52.5%) of the patients in the experimental group lost at least 20% of their excess weight, and 38.3% of patients in the experimental group lost at least 25% of their excess weight.

The clinical study did not meet its original endpoint, which was that the experimental group lose at least 10 percent more excess weight than the control group. However, an FDA Advisory Committee (the Gastroenterology and Urology Devices Panel) found the 18-month data supportive of sustained weight loss, and agreed that the benefits of the device outweighed the risks for use in patients who met the criteria in the device’s proposed indication.

As part of the approval, the manufacturer must conduct a 5-year post approval study that will follow at least 100 patients and collect additional safety and effectiveness data including weight loss, adverse events, surgical revisions and explants and changes in obesity-related conditions.

Serious adverse events reported in the clinical study included nausea, pain at the neuroregulator site, vomiting, as well as surgical complications. Other adverse events included pain, heartburn, problems swallowing, belching, mild nausea and chest pain.