Despite their undisputed clinical benefit, the cost of drug-eluting stents is likely to increase scrutiny and second-guessing over which patients receive them, and physicians should make the final decisions, the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions said in a 64-page report. The report, based on a six-month study and drafted by a 22-member panel, identifies the types of patients most likely to benefit from drug-eluting stents and calls on Medicare and other health insurers to re-evaluate reimbursement.
Drug-eluting stents cost hospitals about $1,400 per patient because of reimbursement shortfalls and replace about 20% of coronary artery bypass surgeries, a profitable procedure for hospitals, that otherwise would be performed. What's more, one analysis cited by the report said overall medical costs for each patient treated with a drug-eluting stent would be about $900 higher during the first two years post-procedure than for individuals who receive basic stents. The report said drug-eluting stents will not be "cost-effective" for use in a wider range of patients until the price drops or reimbursement increases. Read the report. -- by Michael Romano