New COPD drug 'safe'
WASHINGTON - FDA advisers last month called a new drug from Pfizer Boehringer Ingelheim safe and effective for opening the airways of patients with COPD, America's No. 4 killer, U.S. advisers said last month. The FDA will consider its advisory panel's endorsement in deciding whether to approve Spiriva for sale in the United States. The agency usually follows its panels' advice. Some analysts predict that Spiriva could become the next blockbuster drug for treating COPD. That, however, remains to be seen, and at the moment it's formulated for a dry-power inhaler, which Medicare Part B doesn't reimburse, say industry watchers.
CMS broadens electromedical coverage
WASHINGTON – CMS issued a memorandum last month saying it will now cover electrical stimulation for Stage III and Stage IV pressure ulcers, arterial ulcers, diabetic ulcers and venus status ulcers. Medicare's coverage is contingent on a number of clinical requirements. These include the use of electrical stimulation as an adjunctive therapy after no measurable signs of healing for at least 30 days of treatment with standard wound care, and it can continue only when there is measurable signs of progressive healing within 30 days.
Report: 12-fold increase in sleep apnea diagnoses
NORTHBROOK, Ill. - The 12-fold increase in the diagnosis of sleep apnea over the past nine years is in part due to the increased number of accredited sleep labs and sleep publications. Diagnosis of sleep apnea in outpatients increased from 108,121 to 1.3 million from 1990-1998. CHEST connected the increase in physician reporting of sleep apnea to a 50% increase in the number of publications regarding sleep, from 202 to 344.