French government implements special reimbursement policy for HIFU

According to a media release this morning the French national health authority (HAS) has put in place a special temporary reimbursement policy that will cover the use of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) only for selected uses of this technique in the management of prostate cancer.

The media release comes from EDAP TMS, the manufacturer of the Ablatherm HIFU technology which was developed in France and is in relatively common use in Europe. Despite the way that the media release is framed by the company, we believe that the policy being put in place applies to any approved HIFU equipment in use in France for the management of prostate cancer.

The new policy appears to significantly limit coverage and reimbursement of the use of HIFU in the treatment of prostate cancer to patients in one or other of two groups:

  • Patients with localized prostate cancer requiring first-line therapy “who cannot undergo surgery or radiotherapy”
  • Patients with recurrence of their prostate cancer after radiotherapy

The reimbursement policy being put in place also seems to require that HIFU centers in France will receive reimbursement only if they contribute predefined data to a dedicated HIFU registry for the next 5 years.

There is continuing concern in many quarters about the long-term effectiveness of HIFU in the treatment of localized and recurrent prostate cancer. Despite the “positive spin” that EDAP TMS has put on this decision by HAS, we suspect that the company is actually very disappointed by this decision, which is likely to significantly delay any further widespread adoption of HIFU in France for at least 5 years.

2 Responses

  1. A big loss for those who would like to see focal therapies that facilitate men avoiding the life-altering, life-diminishing side effects of conventional treatment. A big loss for men diagnosed and to be diagnosed who would like to both live a normal life span and live a normal life. A big win for conventional treatment providers.

  2. Another expected blow to HIFU following data from studies in France, as well as Canada and Belgium, all reported in earlier commentaries on this site.

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