Calypso Gets Florida Medicare Unit to Pay for “GPS for the Body” for Prostate Cancer
Calypso Medical Technologies has an expensive new technology for targeting radiation beams to cancerous prostate glands, so it shouldn’t be any surprise when insurers balk before they pay up. But Calypso got some good news this week as it persuaded an important customer, the regional Medicare unit that serves a lot of elderly men with prostate cancer in Florida, to set up a standard reimbursement practice.
The Seattle-based medical device company has gotten reports from medical centers in 12 states that they have actually gotten paid for their daily use by Medicare, the company said. Calypso also has established reimbursement from more than 13 private sector insurers, including many of the big names, like UnitedHealthcare (NYSE: UNH), Humana (NYSE: HUM), Cigna (NYSE: CI), and several regional Blue Cross/Blue Shield units.
This whole step-by-step process of reimbursement, and the time it takes, has made it clear that simply winning FDA approval may no longer be the automatic ticket to the promised land for upstart medical device and biotech companies. Calypso’s technology, which it markets as “GPS for the Body” was first approved by the FDA in August 2006. The system uses transponders implanted in the prostate, which send a signal to a base station that tells a technician precisely where the prostate is in the body in real-time.
By tracking the prostate this way, Calypso’s method is supposed see whether buildup of urine in the bladder or gas in the rectum has caused the patient to fall out of careful alignment with the radiation beams. When the beams are off track, they can zap healthy tissue nearby that makes men impotent or incontinent—which most guys I know would rather avoid.
Getting the technology to this point has taken a lot of time and money. The company has consumed about $125 million in venture capital … Next Page »