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Alternative OSA therapies? Providers are skeptical

Alternative OSA therapies? Providers are skeptical

YARMOUTH, Maine – Although alternative therapies to treat sleep apnea like nasal sprays, chest implants and dental appliances continue to flood the market, CPAP remains the gold standard, say HME providers. 

In January, for example, Vivos Therapeutics received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its proprietary daytime-nighttime (DNA) appliance to treat OSA; in March, Inspire Medical, the maker of an FDA-approved neurostimulation device, received FDA approval to offer its OSA therapy to pediatric patients with Down syndrome. 

“I hear very few of my patients ask about other therapies they may have seen on a TV commercial, but I do have some that ask,” said Robert Beard, owner of YD Home Medical in York, Ala. “As far as treating moderate to severe OSA, I believe CPAP is the most effective way to retreat it.” 

Provider Richard Spafford also counts himself among those who are skeptical when it comes to alternative treatments. He urges patients who go that route to “double-check” efficacy with a sleep study. 

“There’s nothing on the market that I say, ‘Oh wow, this is a next generation thing,’” said Spafford, president of USA Medical Supply in West Springfield, Mass. “But if you think it’s working, at least get another sleep study to prove it’s working. We’ve had people it’s worked for, and they’ve done the test and other people who said it doesn’t and they wasted $2,000. Some therapies might work for some people, maybe toward the mild cases vs. the severe, but double check that.” 

Where new entrants in the market are having more traction is testing for sleep apnea, says provider Eric Parkhill. In March, for example, Belun Technology received FDA clearance for its next-generation Belun Sleep System, a photoplethysmography-based wearable ring to detect obstructive sleep apnea.  

“Those (technologies) are popular and they are somewhat accurate – many of the newer testing devices use actigraphy and that’s basically what the apps are doing, using information based on motion and audible sounds,” said Parkhill, president of HMP Diagnostics in Oak Ridge, N.C. “It’s a perfectly good screener for someone. Whether it will test you as much as a home sleep test or in-lab study, who knows what will happen with the technology.”


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