If you’re in profit-driven medicine, there are lots of ways you can expand your market. You can invent new “diseases” for your drug, device or therapy to treat. Or change the symptoms of old ones. Or repurpose old drugs for different conditions. Or invent new delivery systems for them.
According to the press release we were sent,
PerioChip® is a unique biodegradable chip which contains 2.5mg of Chlorhexidine Gluconate. It has been shown to be an effective and safe adjunctive treatment for patients with adult periodontitis with a pocket depth (PD) greater than or equal to 5mm, when used with scaling and root planning [sic] (SRP). Chlorhexidine’s active antiseptic properties kill bacteria without the risk of developing antibiotic resistance1.
Chlorhexidine is a chemical antiseptic that’s commonly used as a disinfecting mouthwash. It tastes pretty horrible and has a tendency to stain tooth enamel, but it’s safe and effective for fighting gum disease (though maybe not tooth decay) – but then so are a number of natural mouthwashes.
According to Sigalit Hart-Moran, Pharma Marketing Director, Dexcel Pharma, “PerioChip® is a safe treatment for periodontal disease that is more effective than SRP alone. As an antiseptic treatment, it also eliminates the risks associated with the overuse of antibiotics.
Well, yay for that! But what’s so mind-blowing about the fact that two actions – scaling and root planing and using chlorhexidine – can have more of an impact than one, just as brushing and flossing are more effective than brushing alone?
Were any other studies done? The press release lists a page of their website as a reference, but it doesn’t add much detail. So we emailed both contacts listed on the press release and asked if there had been any trials comparing different ways of administering chlorhexidine or if the only comparison was with SRP alone. “If the former,” we asked, “do you have any results or information you could share about those trials?
This implicit “no” is fleshed out by the product’s FDA info sheet, which mentions only the two studies that compared chip and no-chip treatment (along with info on adverse events and all the other intriguing details that go into small print).
Without comparison to other ways of administering the antiseptic, we can’t help but suspect that the biggest difference is only in price. A bottle of Peridex runs less than $25. PerioChip? $100 to $199.