Tufts Health Plan Provides Coverage for First Device-Based Procedure to Treat Severe Asthma

Boston Scientific Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) Delivered by the ALAIR™ System Offers Proven Reduction in Asthma Attacks for Adult Patients with Severe Asthma Not Well Controlled with Medication

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (February 1, 2016) – Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE: BSX) today announced that Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) delivered by the Alair™ System is now available to Tufts Health Plan members in Massachusetts and Rhode Island who have severe asthma that is not well controlled with medication. While other insurers have approved Bronchial Thermoplasty (BT) on a case-by-case basis, Tufts Health Plan is the first commercial health insurance provider in New England to offer coverage for qualified patients.

This device-based treatment option is covered for Tufts Health Plan’s commercial members and members of Tufts Health Together, a MassHealth Plan.

It is estimated that 235 million adults suffer from asthma globally, and the burden of this disease to patients, their families, health care systems and governments is increasing worldwide. Many patients manage their asthma with daily maintenance medications including inhaled corticosteroids and long acting beta-agonists. However, there are adults who continue to have symptoms of severe asthma despite maximal drug therapy. These adults may benefit from the Bronchial Thermoplasty procedure, in which a doctor uses the Alair™ System to deliver thermal energy to the airway wall in a precisely controlled manner to reduce excessive airway smooth muscle. It is designed to decrease the ability of the airway to constrict, in order to reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks and associated emergency room (ER) visits1, and to help to improve asthma-related quality of life.

“Severe asthma is a serious health problem. Tufts Health Plan is addressing this significant unmet medical need by making Bronchial Thermoplasty available to its members with severe, difficult-to-control asthma,” said Dr. Payam Aghassi, M.D., Mass Lung & Allergy, PC, UMass Memorial Health Alliance Hospital, Leominster, Mass.

Bronchial Thermoplasty delivered by the Alair System is an established procedure now available at more than 450 hospitals in 31 countries around the world. The benefits of Bronchial Thermoplasty have been shown to persist out to at least five years2 and it has been proven to be safe and effective in clinical trials. Scientific literature shows evidence that Bronchial Thermoplasty provides improved health outcomes while reducing overall costs over time, both goals of U.S. healthcare reform. This one-time treatment consisting of three procedures becomes cost-effective as cost offsets accrue annually without the need for re-treatment3. Additionally, a growing list of society and advocacy groups have published position statements supporting access to Bronchial Thermoplasty as a treatment option for adult asthma patients who are not able to control their severe asthma with medication alone, including the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), British Thoracic Society (BTS), INTERASMA, Allergy and Asthma Network (AAN), and Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

“Tufts Health Plan is a nationally recognized health plan, known for its commitment to quality. Now, more patients with severe asthma whose symptoms are uncontrolled despite an escalating drug regimen can have access to this established treatment option,” said David Pierce, president, Endoscopy, Boston Scientific. “This coverage policy recognizes the demonstrated benefit of Bronchial Thermoplasty to improve the quality of life and reduce health care utilization for patients with severe asthma. We anticipate private payer coverage to continue to increase in 2016.”

  1. Castro M, et al, for the AIR2 Trial Study Group. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010;181:116-124
  2. Wechsler M et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Dec;132(6):1295-302
  3. Expert Rev. Pharmacoecon. Outcomes Res. Early online, 1–8 (2014)