NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 27, 2006

The $6 billion implantable cardiac defibrillator industry faces the problems of overcoming safety concerns amid recalls, dealing with cost cutting by federal health regulators and getting the message out about device benefits to legions of primary care doctors, says the Wall Street Journal.

  • For several years, sales of defibrillators had increased by 20 percent or more because of the large number of patients who are candidates for the devices, but product recalls last year have affected sales growth.
  • A recent announcement by CMS that Medicare might reduce reimbursements for defibrillator surgery by 22 percent also has affected sales growth.
  • Another obstacle to sales is that many primary care physicians who treat congestive heart failure patients do not refer them to cardiologists to receive defibrillators.

Bruce Nudell of Bernstein Research said, "We wouldn't be surprised to see moderation in the final rule" on Medicare reimbursements for defibrillator surgery.

Source: Thomas M. Burton, "Paradox of a Heart Business; Defibrillator Sales SlowDespite Signs of an Untapped Market," Wall Street Journal, April 24, 2006.

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