Device makers need to up the ante on heart implant battery life, according to group purchasing organization Novation, which controlled more than $40 billion in medical supply contracts in 2011.
Heart therapy devices with more enduring battery power mean fewer replacement surgeries for patients, which in turn means cost-savings across the board, according to the GPO, whose purchasing scale includes 47% of all surgeries in the U.S.
"These new devices have the potential to dramatically reduce healthcare costs by cutting the number of expensive device change-out procedures in half," according to Novation. "Having fewer device change-outs benefits patients because there are fewer surgeries, resulting in lower costs as well as reduced risk of infections and complications from surgery."
Standard implantable cardioverter defibrillators generally last up to 7 or 8 years, while CRT defibrillators may only last 5 years. A Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) product review found that less than half of all CRT-Ds released to market in 2007 were still in service after 4.4 years, according to Novation’s report.
A new generation of Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX)
implants, however, boast an average 8-year life, with ICDs lasting as long as 10 to 12 years in projections, which could make a big difference for the ever-younger population of implant recipients.
The Natick, Mass.-based device giant won FDA clearance for its Incepta, Energen and Punctua cardiac implants in November 2011, some of which come with warranties of up to 10 years, a 5-year margin on most standard devices on the market, the company said at the time.
Devices lasting 7 to 9 years could cut direct costs by $190 million and $296 million over 15 years, according to a study conducted by at the Cleveland Dept. of Veterans Affairs Hospital in 2005.
"In light of the trend toward earlier intervention, the increasing number of younger ICD/CRT-D patients, and average U.S. life expectancy of 76 years for men and 81 years for women, the average patient could expect to receive 2 to 4 device change-outs over their lifetime," according to the report. "Data from the ICD registry estimate procedure and device replacement cost is about $37,000, not including physician or anesthesia fees. Six ICD surgeries over this patient’s lifetime could therefore easily exceed $220,000, a portion of which would be out-of-pocket expenses for the patient, who also must endure the 6 procedures."
The effect is even greater for younger patients who are not yet covered by Medicare and who shoulder a larger burden of the cost of replacement. These patients could pay as much as $5,400 to $6,300 per device replacement.
Although most device makers have proprietary battery technology and lifetime projections rely on information given in manufacturers’ warranties, Novation notes that Boston Scientific "appears to have taken the lead in developing a longer-lasting ICDT and CRT-D battery."
"The advanced battery technology developed by Boston Scientific for its Incepta and Energen lines of ICD and CRT-D systems has up to a 10-year warranty," according to the report. "These batteries offer nearly twice the battery capacity as some ICDs and CRT-Ds, yet require the same low power consumption as a pacemaker.
"Novation commends manufacturers like Boston Scientific for continuing to develop longer-lasting and enhanced therapy devices," Novation concluded. "We challenge CRM manufacturers not only to extend their warranty life, but also to change their pro-rated warranties and offer full warranties with minimum coverage of 5 years."