News in brief: OSA device rejected for reimbursement; Lung disease patients to get COVID-19 vaccine; CF Registry wants personal data

Thursday, 11 Mar 2021

OSA device rejected for Medicare reimbursement

A bid for Medicare reimbursement of closed loop upper airways stimulation (UAS) for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) has been rejected by the Medicare Services Advisory Committee.

An application for UAS made by Inspire Medical Systems was for a MBS item to cover use of UAS in patients who have failed or are intolerant to CPAP.

However MSAC said the evidence did not demonstrate that the safety and effectiveness of UAS in the proposed population of OSA patients.

“Some patients improved after using the device, but others did not improve, and some people got worse,” it said.

However, it noted there may be a subpopulation of patients who have failed all other medical management options where UAS therapy may be appropriate, but that this population was not clearly defined in the application.

The UAS system is a device that has to be inserted during surgery. It has a lead that senses the person’s breathing. When breathing stops, the intent of the device is to send a mild electrical signal through another lead to the hypoglossal nerve, stimulating the nerve and opening the airways, which may allow the person to breathe more easily.

Lung disease patients eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Patients with chronic lung conditions or lung cancer will be the next priority for COVID-19 vaccine when phase 1b of the rollout commences on 22 March.

With phase 1a having targeted frontline COVID-19 workers to receive Pfizer’s vaccine (‘Comirnaty’) through clinic hubs, the next phase, 1b, is planned to deliver up to 15 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine via GPs to groups including the elderly, Indigenous Australians, other frontline workers and people with specific medical conditions that put them at risk of COVID-19

In its advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination in Australia, the Department of Health states that the medical conditions conferring risk of COVID-19 include people who have chronic lung disease (excludes mild or moderate asthma), those with a a non-haematological cancer (diagnosed in the last 12 months) and those having chemotherapy or radiotherapy.,

People with underlying conditions will need to provide proof of them to demonstrate their eligibility for vaccination via My health record, a health professional referral if required or a declaration form.

In phase 1b, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will be made available through GPs and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services. The government’s COVID-19 information site says that patients will not be able to choose which vaccine they receive and that “specific vaccines will be administered based on availability and subject to any determination made by the TGA.”

CF registry wants personal data

The Australian Cystic Fibrosis Registry (ACFDR) is seeking to align with other international CF registries by incorporating personal data.

Based at at Monash University, the registry has been collecting data since 1998 but its research and ability to perform data linkages is hampered by data errors and lack of access to participants’ personal identification data. It is therefore proposing to include participants full name, address, email and phone number, which will be protected by encryption and not shared outside the registry.

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