This piece was originally published in the June 2017 issue of electroindustry.
Sue Bunning, Industry Director, Positron Emission Tomography, MITA
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month—a good time to remember the 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and the millions more who are their caregivers.
Members of NEMA’s Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) are on the front lines in the battle to end the disease. Member companies manufacture the positron emission tomography (PET) scanners that assist in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders.
Three of MITA’s PET Group members, Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Piramal Imaging, and GE Healthcare, are at the heart of a four-year research effort: the Imaging Dementia—Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) study. Amyloid imaging uses a PET tracer to detect amyloid plaque buildup in the brain (a core feature of Alzheimer’s disease) that can help clinicians determine whether symptoms are caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The study will determine whether amyloid imaging improves clinical decision-making and patient outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries.
Until recently, amyloid plaques could be seen only during autopsies. While amyloid PET imaging results do not establish a diagnosis, they may increase a physician’s confidence in determining the underlying cause of cognitive impairment and appropriate therapies. Results may also guide patient management. Proof of amyloid pathology is a requirement for inclusion in many Alzheimer’s drug trials.
Although amyloid PET scans have been FDA-approved for several years, only now are they reimbursed by Medicare through the IDEAS study. The Alzheimer’s Association led the initiative to develop a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Coverage with Evidence Development program.
The study is conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association and the American College of Radiology. MITA and the three amyloid tracer companies serve on the study’s steering committee.
A total of 18,488 Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older who meet appropriate use criteria are being enrolled over a period of 24 months at sites throughout the United States. CMS approved the IDEAS study design in 2015. After the initial year of the study, nearly half the expected participants are registered across 824 study sites.
Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month www.alz.org/abam
Imaging Dementia—Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) Study www.ideas-study.org