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HCFA decision on Medicare PET payment level gives lift to SNM attendeesThe remarkable comeback of the nuclear medicine industry continues unabated. Attendees at this month’s Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting in Toronto found that the
HCFA decision on Medicare PET payment level gives lift to SNM attendees
The remarkable comeback of the nuclear medicine industry continues unabated. Attendees at this months Society of Nuclear Medicine meeting in Toronto found that the modality is well into the second year of a growth spurt characterized by new equipment purchasing. The markets resurgence shows no signs of slowing, and the renewed growth is sparking new optimism among nuclear medicine practitioners and manufacturers about the modalitys future.
Some vendors at the SNM conference reported that the U.S. nuclear medicine market is demonstrating year-to-date growth of 20% in dollar volume and 10% in unit volume. Industry observers estimate that the U.S. market could be valued at between $400 million and $450 million by the end of the year.
Much of the credit for the revival goes to PET, nuclear medicines costly sister modality, whose long-term future was in doubt just a few years ago. Clinical studies are beginning to demonstrate the utility of PET imaging in providing metabolic information unavailable with anatomical imaging modalities, particularly for oncology applications.
Manufacturers are pursuing PET imaging with dedicated PET cameras, as well as with gamma cameras upgraded with coincidence detection electronics. Many companies began shipping coincidence detection packages this year, adding to the markets momentum. In fact, some industry experts believe that another major factor in the markets resurgence is the number of coincidence-ready variable-angle dual-head gamma cameras that have begun shipping in the past year from major manufacturers like Siemens, Elscint, and Picker.
The biggest news at the SNM meeting concerned the Health Care Financing Administrations announcement of Medicare reimbursement levels for PET and coincidence detection studies with fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) (SCAN 6/10/98). Although HCFA in January announced that Medicare would pay for FDG lung studies, it did not release a payment level, creating uncertainty in the market as to whether PET imaging would be economically feasible.
HCFA released a payment level of $1980 for the technical elements of PET imaging, an amount that was greeted with enthusiasm by market observers. The rate ensures that clinical PET sites will be able to break even on PET imaging with fewer than six scans a day. PETproponents are working with HCFA to gain Medicare reimbursement for other applications.
Other highlights at the SNM conference included ADACs introduction of CPET, a dedicated PET scanner manufactured by UGM Medical Systems that ADAC began selling on June 1. Picker also raised eyebrows with its introduction of Beacon, a work-in-progress attenuation correction device that works in both SPECT and coincidence detection modes, and gPET, a new coincidence detection protocol that the company is developing.
Among new vendors making their debuts at the meeting was IS2 Research, a company founded by former Park Medical founder Iain Stark to manufacture and sell a new line of single-head digital gamma cameras.
Panels in this Deerfield, IL, pharmaceutical companys booth emphasized its