Remember Sedasys, Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) robot anesthesiologist that began making serious headlines in May of last year? If not, this should refresh your memory:
Approved by the FDA to administer propofol (a sedative) for simple screenings like colonoscopies or endoscopies in 2013, it was poised to reduce the cost of sedation by around ninety percent—from $2,000, about the cost of an anesthesiologist, to an estimated $150-200.
As expected, there was significant backlash from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) when Sedasys failed its first FDA review back in 2010. According to the Washington Post, as it became clear that Sedasys would gain FDA approval, the ASA backed down a bit and instead campaigned for more restrictions on the robot.
The remaining ASA naysayers have gotten their way: in their latest move to cut spending of their medical device division, Johnson & Johnson has taken Sedasys off the market. The company plans to turn its focus to other device ventures, and it is yet unknown whether Sedasys will continue to live in the healthcare facilities it already calls home, or will be called by a different name if another company takes over, according to an Ethicon spokesperson.
To be fair to J&J, the robot’s discontinuation can’t be entirely attributed to fat-trimming. According to J&J, the device just couldn’t be sold; it was only introduced to a small handful of healthcare facilities during its two-year run. Whether that was a result of ASA doubts or patient fears is yet unknown.