Pulmonx said yesterday that it won national coverage through health insurer Aetna for its Zephyr endobronchial valve system intended for treating severe emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.
The coverage will make the Zephyr valve available to Aetna’s 22 million members, the Redwood City, Calif.-based company said.
Under its new policy, Aetna specifically named the Zephyr as an approved bronchoscopic option for lung volume reduction, considering it medically necessary for the broncoscopic treatment of adult patients with hyperinflation associated with severe emphysema in regions of the lung with little or no collateral ventilation, Pulmonx said.
“Zephyr Valves are a major step forward in treating severe emphysema and it is very exciting to see a large health plan like Aetna offer coverage to its members. This coverage gives patients access to a new treatment that can improve their lives long term without the risk of major surgery. Patients with severe emphysema often suffer with poor breathing and mobility. As a physician who cares for patients with COPD, I am looking forward to being able to offer a minimally invasive treatment to patients that can help them breathe easier and get back to living a more active life,” Dr. MeiLan Han of the University of Michigan said in a prepared statement.
The valve is implanted in a bronchoscopic procedure that requires no cutting or incisions, the company said. During the procedure, an average of four valves are placed in the airways to block off the diseased sections of the lungs to allow air to escape until the lobe reduces in size.
Pulmonx said that reducing hyperinflation and preventing air from getting trapped in the diseased areas of the lung allows healthier areas of the lungs to expand and take in more air, letting patients breathe more easily and have less shortness of breath.
“Patients with severe emphysema need new treatment options. The Zephyr Valve has been shown in four consecutive published clinical trials to improve the pulmonary function, exercise capacity, and quality of life of these patients which led FDA to designate the Zephyr Valve a ‘breakthrough device.’ Aetna’s coverage policy is serving its members well by making this well-proven new treatment available to them,” prez & CEO Glen French said in a press release.
In June, Pulmonx won pre-market approval under the FDA’s breakthrough device designation for the Zephyr valve.