The chief executive of bone densitometry firm Norland Medical Systems said this month that sales of the company's pDEXA line of peripheral densitometers have bounced back after a slump last year caused by new Medicare reimbursement codes for peripheral densitometry. Reynald Bonmati, chairman and president of the White Plains, NY, company, said Norland's decision to cut pDEXA prices after the new codes were released helped demand for pDEXA return to levels recorded earlier in the year.
The Health Care Financing Administration in November released new codes that lowered Medicare reimbursement for peripheral densitometry from $124 to $37.57. Axial densitometry slipped from $124 to $121.16 (SCAN 1/8/97). The release of the new codes caused Norland's stock to slump from around $20 a share at the beginning of the month to a low of under $8 a share in early December.
Bonmati said some of that decline may have been due to negative publicity generated about the codes by Norland's competitors, which market axial systems that were not as affected by the changes. Norland believes, however, that the HCFA ruling clears up confusion about peripheral densitometry, according to Bonmati.
"Although I feel that a reimbursement rate for peripheral scans set at approximately $70 would have been appropriate given the $120 reimbursement rate set for traditional DEXA scans, I believe that the establishment of a separate code means that peripheral bone densitometry is here to stay," he said.
In other news, Norland has hired Jay Galeota as vice president of marketing to develop point-of-care densitometry markets. Galeota formerly was senior director of marketing at Merck for its Fosamax osteoporosis drug, which has driven much of the growth in the bone densitometry segment.