Medical Devices To Treat Anxiety
Fisher Wallace Laboratories sells wearable medical devices designed to treat symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Its initial device is a headband called the Stimulator. This device comfortably stimulates the brain to produce neurochemicals like serotonin, which is believed to contribute toward feelings of happiness and well-being. At the same time, the Stimulator reduces the brain’s output of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone.
According to The Wall Street Journal, this device has achieved twice the success rate of anti-depressant medications. And Forbes called it “One of four technologies innovating mental health.”
Since receiving FDA clearance for its device in 2007, Fisher Wallace has generated more than $23 million in revenue, including $4.7 million in 2018. The company has sold more than 50,000 of its devices, and was recently named among INC 5000’s fastest-growing companies.
Every year, 1 in 4 Americans develops insomnia. Meanwhile, mental health has become the No. 1 healthcare cost in the U.S. — greater than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, half of these costs are spent treating symptoms of depression and anxiety.
As a result, by 2020, the U.S. mental health market is expected to surpass $200 billion.
Current treatment options like antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and sleep medications can cause dangerous side effects, and are expensive, even in generic form. Behavioral therapy doesn’t result in serious side effects, but is expensive to administer and requires a high level of patient engagement.
Fisher Wallace’s device, in contrast, is affordable, effective, and has a low-risk of side effects.
During clinical trials and patient use cases, the Stimulator achieved a 75% effectiveness rate, and just 1% of patients experienced side effects, compared to 38% of patients using prescription medication. This success offers patients an alternative to taking prescription drugs.
Said Dr. Andres San Martin of Columbia University Medical Center, “I have had great success using the device to treat severe, chronic insomnia in patients who are resistant to pharmacotherapy.”
To use the Stimulator, patients simply wrap the device around their forehead. Treatment takes 20 minutes per day, and according to Fisher Wallace, patients typically experience a reduction in symptoms within the first week of use.
In a 2015 clinical trial at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, patients who used the Stimulator to treat bipolar depression achieved a significantly greater reduction in their symptoms than those who used a placebo.
To market its product, Fisher Wallace uses ads on Google and Facebook, as well as targeted e-mail marketing campaigns. These efforts attempt to drive consumers to the company’s e-commerce website, where the Stimulator can be purchased for $699.
Moving forward, Fisher Wallace has several plans in place:
First, the company is developing a second version of its Stimulator. This will feature an improved design, a mobile app, and patent-pending microchip technology that will lower the cost of manufacturing. The company hopes to complete this version in July 2020.
Second, Fisher Wallace aims to shift from a hardware-only medical device business to a software and data-driven operation. Specifically, it plans to create a series of digital health services, and offer corporate wellness and mental health solutions for employers.
Within 5 years, Fisher Wallace aims to reach $50 million in total revenue and become an acquisition target.
Kelly has served as CEO of Fisher Wallace since its inception.
Before starting the company, he gained sales experience as Director of Sales for Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN), an information-focused advertising company. Prior to that, he was an account executive for Nature Publishing Group in New York.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard University.
Charles has extensive experience in the electronics industry.
As a kid, he helped his father run Fisher Electronics, a company specializing in hi-fi electronics that was acquired by Sanyo.
He then moved on to become a sales executive at IBM (NYSE: IBM), where he acquired the original intellectual property to create the Fisher Wallace Stimulator, and start the company.
Charles earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Harvard University.