UnitedHealthcare will cover Abbott’s non-opioid neurostimulation therapy for nerve pain

Abbott (NYSE:ABT) today announced that UnitedHealthcare has updated a medical policy that expands access to certain neurostimulation devices.

UnitedHealthcare has updated its “Implanted Electrical Spinal Cord Stimulator” policy, increasing patient access to Abbott’s non-opioid dorsal root ganglion neurostimulation (DRG) device for the treatment of chronic pain.

The updated policy covers 26 million UnitedHealthcare business members and will go into effect March 1, 2022, according to a press release.

Abbott markets its non-opioid DRG stimulation as the world’s only neurostimulator specifically designed to treat complex nerve conditions caused by complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) or peripheral causalgia. The Proclaim DRG Neurostimulation System is the only FDA-cleared DRG technology for the treatment of CRPS and lower extremity causalgia, the company said.

DRG therapy stimulates the dorsal root ganglia nerve bundle located outside the spinal cord. DRG stimulation therapy involves implanting a small battery device, usually in the abdomen or buttock, and passing thin, insulated wires near the DRG. Leads deliver electrical impulses to nerves, preventing pain signals from traveling to the spinal cord and brain, thereby reducing pain in certain parts of the body.

The system is low-maintenance and self-charging thanks to Bluetooth wireless connectivity to control prescribed stimulation levels via Apple apps. It is also compatible with Abbott’s NeuroSphere Virtual Clinic which allows patients to communicate with doctors and receive new treatment parameters remotely without having to visit a doctor’s office.

“Neuropathy pain is one the most common and undertreated forms of chronic pain,“, said Pedro Malha, Abbott’s vice president of neuromodulation, in the press release. “UnitedHealthcare’s new coverage guidelines for offering these patients DRG stimulation is 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 payers to continue to expand the benefits of DRG stimulation therapy so that as many people as possible can benefit from it.

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