The kind of product I’d like to see more of

Branded pharmaceutical companies have a great business model: charge high prices for their products and generate demand through intensive detailing of physicians and often Direct to Consumer advertising. Patients and physicians have been trained that a trip to the doctor’s office should bring one or more new prescriptions.

However, downsides to this model include high costs, sometimes serious side effects, and an over-emphasis on drugs compared to alternatives.

A few years ago I was at a party in New York City and met the CEO of a company that was getting ready to launch RESPeRATE, a biofeedback device deemed effective by the FDA at lowering blood pressure. It has no side effects (unlike blood pressure bills, which are quite dangerous) and is available over the counter. The small device…

…automatically analyzes your… breathing pattern and creates a personalized melody composed of two distinct inhale and exhale guiding tones. Simply listen to the melody through the headphones and synchronize your breathing to the tones. By prolonging the exhalation tone, RESPeRATE guides you to slow your breathing and reach the “therapeutic zone” of less than 10 breaths per minute. The physiological result? The muscles surrounding the small blood vessels in your body dilate and relax. Blood is allowed to flow more freely, and pressure is significantly lowered

As an OTC product, RESPeRATE seems to be achieving decent distribution. The challenge for RESPeRATE, compared to drug pressure bills, is that it’s hard to get insurance reimbursement for it, and it’s a one time sale –there are no prescriptions to refill. At $300 retail, it’s not really cost effective for the company to detail physicians, although as the device catches on it’s becoming practical to do DTC.

I’d like to see health insurers, epecially Consumer Directed Plans, do a better job of educating its membership about products like RESPeRATE.

June 16, 2005

3 thoughts on “The kind of product I’d like to see more of”

  1. Interesting stuff indeed.

    Allow me to add few thoughts as Founding CEO of InterCure ( , the maker of RESPeRATE ( .

    RESPeRATE is pursuing a rather disruptive OTC therapeutic medical device model.

    The idea is that if you really have a non-drug therapy to offer – consumer would want to buy and will be willing to pay out-of-pocket. Add regulatory approvals and medical backing and you can have relatively long product life cycles. We aim to bring together the best attributes of proprietary medical device with the volume of consumer electronics (i.e. iPod).

    Few years back, the only people who could pull such marketing stunts were large consumer company such as P&G and Phillips. This has changed with the growth of online retailers and advertisement. RESPeRATE is taking a full advantage of this advances. Search RESPeRATE on any of the search engines or even on Amazon to see what I’m talking about.

    Still Nick is right to point out that given the therapeutic promise of RESPeRATE the buzz can be much louder. If any of you bloggers got fresh ideas, I’m all ears and can be reached through

    Erez Gavish,
    President & CEO
    InterCure, Maker of RESPeRATE

  2. As a practicing academic primary care internist, I treat a lot of patients with hypertension. I find the data supporting the efficacy of RESPeRATE intriguing and hope to start incorporating its use in my practice.

    While it is clear that many patients require pharmacologic intervention for their hypertension, a substantial subset would benefit from non-drug therapy alone or in combination with pharmacotherapy.

    Many patients request non-drug interventions for their hypertension (or don’t express their reluctance to take medications, but then are non-adherent to therapy). As allopathic physicians, we do recommend “lifestyle modifications” (low-salt, increased aerobic activity etc…), but very few patients are able to improve their blood pressure to a sufficient degree (outside of research driven protocols with lots of patient support -re., DASH study).

    Up until now, the data supporting traditional meditation or relaxation techniques has been mixed. I am enthusiastic that RESPeRATE will provide the structure and feedback that will benefit patients.

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