Abbott has announced a new national coverage determination for the company’s dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurostimulation pain therapy through Aetna. With this coverage decision, Aetna will provide more than 22 million medical plan members with access to Abbott’s DRG therapy for people with chronic pain. Aetna already covers Abbott’s spinal cord stimulation therapies.
Favourable coverage decisions for neurostimulation therapies by private payers such as Aetna support the goals of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) and other government bodies to improve access to non-opioid alternatives for pain management.
Abbott’s DRG therapy is a form of neurostimulation that specifically targets the dorsal root ganglion, a structure along the spinal column which is densely populated with nerves that transmit sensory information to the central nervous system. By blocking or disrupting pain signals transmitted via the DRG, the therapy helps people living with neuropathic pain conditions, some of the most prevalent and under-treated forms of chronic pain in America.
Historically, these conditions have been challenging for physicians to treat because the pain stems from damage to tissue and nerves or results from a disruption in how the peripheral and central nervous systems process or transmit pain signals. Worse, neuropathic pain conditions are often characterized by intense shooting pain or a burning sensation and in their search for pain relief many people try medication, opioids and surgery without success.