by Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor | August 28, 2012
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Monday it was arranging a Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee meeting in January to review available evidence and hear from the public on possible benefits of PET beta-amyloid imaging.
CMS uses meetings of MEDCAC, a body made of outside experts, to get advice on the quality of evidence for new technologies or procedures. CMS can then refer to this advice when later making Medicare coverage decisions.
Typically, MEDCAC panels are made up of up to 15 of the group's members who have expertise in the subject area.
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In a notice posted to the MEDCAC website, CMS said it was interested in learning about the "clinical impact of this technology on health outcomes experienced by patients."
CMS will likely reveal more information about the meeting closer to the date it's being held, January 30.
Currently Medicare does not cover PET beta-amyloid imaging, which only became commercially available this spring with the Food and Drug Administration approval of Amyvid (florbetapir), developed by Eli Lilly and Co.'s Avid Pharmaceutical subsidiary.
The technology uses radioactive tracers that bind to beta-amyloid deposits in the brain, which are linked to Alzheimer's disease. Under Amyvid's FDA indication, doctors can use the PET beta-amyloid brain scans to help rule out Alzheimer's if the scans are negative for plaque deposits, but the presence of plaque by itself is not grounds for an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Still, it's among the first commercially marketed technologies to let doctors gauge plaque load in the brains of living patients.
Other PET beta-amyloid imaging agents are in development from GE Healthcare and Piramal.