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  The Herman Trend Alert

November 25, 2009

New Electro-Magnetic Treatment for Depression

"Depression" is a disease that affects over 14 million adults in the United States every year and has been characterized by the World Health Organization as the "leading cause of disability worldwide among persons five and older". In a study conducted by Employee Assistance Professionals Association, depression ranked among the top three workplace issues, costing US businesses about USD$70 Billion in medical expenditures, lost productivity and other costs, plus an additional USD$12 billion in lost workdays annually.

Up until now, the best approved therapies included a class of drugs called Serotonin Re- uptake Inhibitors (SRIs), such as Paxil®, Zoloft®, and Prozac®, anti-depressants sold in pill form.

Now, people with depression have an alternative that does not involve the ingestion of chemicals---or anything else for that matter. Called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), this new therapy involves the use of electro-magnets to stimulate the part of the brain that produces serotonin, the hormone believed to be most responsible for mood.

Last month, Neuronetics, Inc., a privately-held medical device company that produces the NeuroStar® machine announced that its NeuroStar TMS Therapy® received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the procedure. This non-invasive (does not involve surgery) and non-systemic (does not circulate in the bloodstream throughout the body) form of neuromodulation uses highly focused, pulsed magnetic fields to stimulate function in targeted brain regions. Typical treatment protocol is daily treatment everyday for six to eight weeks. Patients are awake during the procedure and may feel a light tapping, but no pain.

In randomized, double-blind studies, NeuroStar TMS Therapy-treated patients had statistically significant response and remission rates, approximately twice the rate of placebo-treated patients with no adverse effects.

This alternative therapy is currently only available at selective centers throughout the US and must be administered by a licensed psychiatrist; however our forecast is that it will soon be available at centers throughout the world. We also forecast that alternative therapies like this one, using electro-magnetism to stimulate parts of the body will become increasingly important in the medical arsenal. It has been used successfully for years to promote healing after knee surgery.

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