Abbott (NYSE:ABT) announced today that UnitedHealthcare updated a medical policy that expands access to certain neurostimulation devices.
UnitedHealthcare updated its “Implanted Electrical Stimulator for Spinal Cord” policy, increasing patient access to Abbott’s non-opioid dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurostimulation device for treating chronic pain.
The updated policy covers 26 million UnitedHealthcare commercial members and will go into effect on March 1, 2022, according to a news release.
Abbott touts its non-opioid DRG stimulation as the world’s only neurostimulator specifically designed for treating complex nerve pain conditions caused by complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or peripheral causalgia. The Proclaim DRG neurostimulation system is the only FDA approved DRG technology for treating CRPS and causalgia of the lower extremities, the company said.
DRG therapy stimulates the dorsal root ganglia bundle of nerves located on the outside of the spinal cord. The DRG stimulation therapy involves implanting a small battery device, typically in the abdomen or buttock, and running thin, insulated leads near the DRG. The leads deliver electrical pulses to the nerves, blocking pain signals from traveling to the spinal cord and the brain, reducing pain in certain parts of the body.
The system is low-maintenance and recharge-free with Bluetooth wireless connectivity allowing for control of the prescribed stimulation levels through Apple applications. It also has compatibility with Abbott’s NeuroSphere virtual clinic that allows patients to communicate with physicians and receive new treatment settings remotely without having to travel to a physician’s office.
“Neuropathic pain is one of the most prevalent and under-treated forms of chronic pain,” Abbott VP of Neuromodulation Pedro Malha said in the news release. “The new coverage guidance by UnitedHealthcare to offer these patients DRG stimulation is yet another step forward in providing people with a safe and effective treatment alternative for their chronic pain. We are working with a number of other commercial payors to continue to extend the benefits of DRG stimulation therapy so as many people as possible can benefit.”