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FDA approves Medtronic brain stimulator as OCD treatment

Medtronic has won limited approval to sell a “brain pacemaker” device to treat severe cases obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The Reclaim DBS neurostimulator is not a cure for OCD, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a press release Thursday. However, it approved the Medtronic product under a “humanitarian device exemption.”

That means the company can sell the product to a relatively small group of patients for whom other treatments are unsuccessful, but the company cannot make a profit from the device, the Pioneer Press explains.

The device is similar to a cardiac pacemaker. But instead of sending electricity into the heart, the lead wires are implanted in the brain, where mild electrical pulses interrupt certain nerve signals and suppress symptoms.

The hope by Medtronic and other device companies is that similar devices will eventually be approved to treat severe depression.

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