FDA approves Brio neurostimulation system

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Brio neurostimulation system (St Jude Medical), an implantable deep brain stimulation device to help reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, a movement disorder that is one of the most common causes of tremors. The Brio neurostimulation system can help some patients when medication alone may not provide adequate relief from symptoms such as walking difficulties, balance problems, and tremors.

“There are no cures for Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor, but finding better ways to manage symptoms is essential for patients,” said William Maisel, acting director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “This new device adds to the array of treatment options to help people living with Parkinson’s and essential tremor enjoy better, more productive lives.”


The Brio neurostimulation system consists of a small (1.9in x 2.1in x 0.4in) battery-powered, rechargeable electrical pulse generator implanted under the skin of the upper chest and wire leads that attach to electrodes placed within the brain at specific locations depending on whether the device is being used to treat Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor. The electrical pulse generator continuously delivers low intensity electrical pulses to target areas in the brain. Healthcare providers make adjustments to the pulse generator to optimise the effects of the Brio neurostimulation system.


Data supporting the safety and effectiveness of the device system included two clinical studies. One study included 136 patients with Parkinson’s disease and the other included 127 patients with essential tremor. In both studies, patients had symptoms, including tremors, that were not adequately controlled with drug therapy. 


The Brio neurostimulation system was used in addition to medication for patients with Parkinson’s disease and the majority of patients with essential tremor who used the device were able to control their symptoms without the need for medications. Researchers implanted the Brio neurostimulation system in all patients and assessed effectiveness for Parkinson’s disease patients at three months and essential tremor patients at six months. Both groups showed statistically significant improvement on their primary effectiveness endpoint when the device was turned on compared to when it was turned off. 


Serious adverse events included intracranial bleeding, which can lead to stroke, paralysis or death. Other device-related adverse events included infection and dislocation of the device lead under the skin.


The Brio neurostimulation system is the second device approved by the FDA for Parkinson’s and essential tremor. The first device, Medtronic’s Activa deep brain stimulation therapy system, was approved in 1997 for tremor associated with essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease. In 2002, the indications were expanded to include the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.