Published in Advance for Directors in Rehabilitation, March 2005 issue:
Electromedical Products International, Inc.
Interview with Dr. Daniel L. Kirsch, Founder and Chairman of the Board
Founded in Los Angeles in 1981, Electromedical Products International, Inc. (EPI) moved to Mineral Wells, Texas in 1994. EPI is the world’s leading cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) and microcurrent manufacturer. The company’s Alpha-Stim® brand products are marketed for pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Q: What makes your company and its products unique?
A: Electromedical Products International, Inc. (EPI) is dedicated to restoring the brain-body connection for the betterment of physical and mental health. Most practitioners ignore the brain, unless of course they are psychiatrists or neurosurgeons. Yet rehabilitation is mainly about neuromuscular function and that is controlled by the brain. When your computer is not functioning, you don’t look at the peripheral mouse first, you look at the central processing unit (CPU). The brain is the CPU of the body. We get the best results in most somatic complaints by treating both the brain and body with a microcurrent waveform designed to treat the brain. Our extensive clinical research has found that there are a few pain related disorders that only require treatment of the brain with CES. Specifically they are fibromyalgia and reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), now also commonly referred to as complex regional pain syndrome type I. I still prefer to refer to it as RSD because I published a case report in the American Journal of Pain Management (8(4):124-128, 1988) of a very interesting person, who worked for the Clinton White House on disabilities and he had global (full body) RSD. Shortly after that we had 55 cases of global RSD. So I prefer not to call it regional. These are the most difficult pain patients to treat and though we tried, we did not find any better results by treating peripherally. CES achieved significant pain reduction in 82% of these patients. Fibromyalgia, which is the biggest pandemic in pain today, may be a limbic system disorder so although it manifests itself as a global pain, CES is the best treatment for that as well. We have two university based double-blind studies on fibromyalgia which showed significant results (p<0.001) and peer-reviewed outcome survey data on 505 fibromyalgia patients with 90% reporting significant results after a minimum of 3 weeks of use.
Q. What kind of support do you offer in educating, training and supporting your customers?
A. Because our technology is unique, we choose to focus on research and now have about 60 studies on Alpha-Stim technology with several more underway. In addition to the obvious usefulness of research to help sell our technology to the practitioner, patient, and third party reimbursers, we learned a lot from it ourselves. We also surveyed doctors and thousands of patients to learn more. The results of all this are on our web site. We employ full time clinical support personnel to help people with any questions they might have. If my staff does not have the answer they come to me. If I don’t have an answer there are hundreds of practitioners with specific areas of expertise I can call or email for answers. In addition to that we hold 3 or 4 two day seminars annually and I lecture at medical conferences worldwide. In 2003, I moderated an 8 speaker, 6 ½ hour full day track on electromedicine at the American Academy of Pain Management’s annual meeting. We have that available in a 4 DVD set. It is a fairly comprehensive course on everything from the theories to the research and treatment for both the body and brain. For patients we have a 30 minute DVD or VHS version of the owner’s manual for our flagship product, the Alpha-Stim 100. We have brochures and instructions for use in eight languages, and all our stimulators are covered by a 5 year warranty. We pride ourselves on offering more support than any other company in our field.
Q. How has the economic or regulatory environment affected your business?
A. It took us 7 years to get through the FDA process for the anxiety, depression, and insomnia indications. It is gratifying to see the government is now funding some of our research. We are in the process of conducting a multi-site study of spinal cord injuries in veterans based on a successful pilot study by Dr. Tan at the Houston VA and the NIH is funding a study of Alpha-Stim CES for breast cancer patients on chemotherapy. We already have some pilot studies showing beneficial results with cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. We have seen two substantial booms to our business so far this century. The first was after September 11, 2001. Obviously the stress level of America has been raised since then and our CES technology can help with that. All chronic pain patients have some level of a mood disorder, anxiety, depression or “just stress”. We donated some Alpha-Stims to help 9/11 survivors in New York. Many pain patients who rely on Alpha-Stim technology at home to manage their pain lost control after 9/11. We found that they were watching too much news. When they cut out watching news all day, and just caught up with the regular network brief synopsis in the evening, they did much better. And just last Fall, the FDA issued their most severe black box warnings for the entire class of antidepressant drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) due to safety concerns. Since Alpha-Stim has approval to market for depression and is safe, the safety concerns over psychotropic medications have created a lot more interest in our technology. We started out in the pain management market. But since there are so many things that people do for pain we decided to specialize in the far smaller CES market. For us, and millions of people worldwide, we made the right choice. Even after 24 years I often think we are the best kept secret in medicine, but that is changing. Our technology, research, customer support programs, and ethics are finally bearing fruit. The 1990s was declared the decade of the brain. It is very rewarding to see the importance of the brain being recognized by rehabilitation specialists.