Hybrid systems, expanded reimbursement take center stage at SNM meetingFor vendors at this year’s Society of Nuclear Medicine show in Los Angeles, the industry’s hard times of the mid-1990s were only a memory. While the meeting suffered
Hybrid systems, expanded reimbursement take center stage at SNM meeting
For vendors at this years Society of Nuclear Medicine show in Los Angeles, the industrys hard times of the mid-1990s were only a memory. While the meeting suffered from low physician attendance and a paucity of new technological introductions, the growing commercial promise of PET for the most part overshadowed other concerns.
Vendors sailed into the show buoyed by a strong market: Industry observers reported that the U.S. nuclear medicine market grew by 10% to 12% in 1998. Although indications are that the market had a disappointing fourth quarter last year, that weakness apparently didnt carry through to 1999. Nuclear medicine revenues in the first quarter of 1999 were $105 million, up 15% from the first quarter of 1998, according to data from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. In a report published just before the meeting, market research firm Frost & Sullivan of Mountain View, CA, predicted that total nuclear medicine equipment revenues in 1999 will exceed $750 million.
The Health Care Financing Administrations expanded PET coverage fueled excitement about PET. On July 1, the agency began to reimburse for three additional oncology applications: colorectal cancer, Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and melanoma. Advocates such as the Institute for Clinical PET are working with HCFA to determine adequate payment levels for the new indications, as well as to expand the list further to include other applications.
With PET reimbursement and a stable radiopharmaceutical production network more firmly in place, many vendors expressed confidence that the PET market is poised to break through to commercial viability. Forty-two percent of the SNM meetings clinical papers were on PET, according to SNM officials, and U.S. centers offering PET have increased from 50 to 300 in the last two years, with most of the growth in gamma camera coincidence detection imaging. The Frost & Sullivan report estimates that there are 270 PET scanners and 22,000 gamma cameras installed worldwide.
PETs arrival as a commercially viable technology was highlighted by the debut of two companies formed to offer mobile PET services. Both are based in southern California: Acclaim Medical in Newport Beach and Mobile PET Systems in San Diego. Both companies plan to begin offering mobile service in southern California this summer.
With respect to new gamma camera technologies, the exhibit floor was relatively quiet. GE Medical Systems of Milwaukee probably garnered the most attention with its unveiling of Functional Anatomic Mapping (SCAN 6/23/99).
Another high point came from the nuclear medicine division of Siemens Medical Systems in Hoffman Estates, IL, which sparked interest with images collected on the hybrid CT/PET scanner it is developing with partner CTI of Knoxville, TN.
Despite the enthusiasm, this years SNM meeting did sustain lower than usual attendance numbers. Roughly 3500 people attended the show, almost half the attendance at the 1998 SNM conference in Toronto. Industry observers attributed the decrease to the Los Angeles location and associated costs, rather than lack of interest in nuclear medicine.