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