ACR attacks Medicare decision on virtual colonography

May 13, 2009

Other headlines:Merge strikes Chinese allianceTomoTherapy revenues drop

ACR attacks Medicare decision on virtual colonography

The other shoe fell yesterday on virtual colonography, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ruled finally not to cover the CT-based screening procedure for colon cancer. In line with a proposed ruling issued in February, CMS cited insufficient evidence supporting the use of this procedure, but the American College of Radiology argued otherwise.

In a prepared statement, Dr. James H. Thrall, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors, said the ruling, if allowed to stand, will cost lives. Nearly 50,000 of the more than 140,000 U.S. patients diagnosed annually with colorectal cancer die because their disease was detected too late, he said. Recent clinical trials have validated the accuracy of CT colonography compared with optical technology, according to Thrall, who called on Congress to pass legislation this session to require Medicare coverage of the exam. Not only does CTC show the potential of saving lives, it can save money. Conventional colonoscopies cost up to $3000. CT-based colonography charges are between $300 and $800.

Merge strikes Chinese alliance

PACS/IT provider Merge Healthcare has entered into a strategic alliance with Shanghai Kingstar Winning, a China-based provider of healthcare information technology products. Under the agreement, the Merge Healthcare China office will make available clinical imaging products and professional services to Kingstar Winning for sale to its customer base, which includes more than 800 Chinese hospitals.

TomoTherapy revenues drop

Revenues at radiation therapy vendor TomoTherapy fell 21% in the first quarter ended March 31, leading to a 17% increased operating loss compared with the year-earlier period. In the quarter, the company tallied revenues of $30.6 million, posting a $14 million operating loss. Company executives said performance was in line with internal expectations and asserted that the company is in a strong financial position. TomoTherapy closed the quarter with $158 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments and a revenue backlog of $157 million from shipments likely to happen in the next two years.