New Federal Law on Medicare Reimbursement for AAA Screening Attracts Wide Support
BOTHELL, WA - February 15, 2006 - Sonosite, Inc. (Nasdaq:SONO), commented today on the new federal law on Medicare reimbursement for a screening test to detect Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA) as part of the "Welcome To Medicare Physical Exam." The recent passage of the Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms Very Efficiently (SAAAVE) Act, which will become effective in 2007, is considered a momentous development within the cardiovascular community. Sonosite, the market leader in hand-carried ultrasound systems, has actively supported passage of this legislation.
"The SAAAVE Act means that thousands of American lives will be saved from this potentially fatal disease," said Kevin M. Goodwin, Sonosite President and CEO. "The SAAAVE Act is among a growing number of examples of the value that hand-carried ultrasound can play in screening for the early detection and management of cardiovascular disease. Sonosite is proud to partner with leading medical societies as part of the National Aneurysm Alliance to help improve the cardiovascular health of Americans.
"According to figures from the National Aneurysm Alliance, AAAs kill between 15,000-30,000 people annually, making it the 16th leading cause of death in the United States. According to the medical literature, AAA tends to strike victims over 55 years old. Other important risk factors for AAA include smoking or a history of smoking, high blood pressure, heart disease, and a family history of AAA. In addition, AAAs affect men more frequently than women, although women with a family history of AAA are four times more likely to develop AAA compared to women without such family history. "The use of ultrasound to screen for AAAs makes both clinical and economic sense," said Dr. William Flinn, a vascular surgeon at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and current vice-chair of the American Vascular Association. "Even today, when an AAA ruptures, it is fatal in over half the cases. Unfortunately, 80% of people who suffer AAA rupture never knew they had an aneurysm.
Even those who survive AAA rupture often need extended care and suffer permanent disabilities. So, screening not only saves lives, but can result in significant financial savings as well. Elective treatments, for AAA are safe and effective, and early detection by screening will allow us to avoid many catastrophic outcomes. Countless deaths from AAA will be prevented by this screening program." Sonosite's hand-carried ultrasound (HCU) systems were used in numerous AAA screening demonstration events in support of the passage of the SAAAVE Act.
"We have screened thousands of Americans using Sonosite's products," said Sheila Arrington, founder of Aneurysm Outreach, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness of AAAs. "Our physicians and sonographers were always impressed by the quality and durability of Sonosite's systems. HCU systems are the logical choice for use in large scale screening programs as they can easily be taken to the site of the screening whether it is in the physician's office or at a community health fair, even in remote areas of the US."
Sonosite, Inc. (www.sonosite.com) is the innovator and world leader in hand-carried ultrasound, with an installed base of more than 25,000 systems. The company, headquartered near Seattle, Washington, is represented by eight subsidiaries and a global distribution network in over 75 countries. Sonosite's small, lightweight systems are expanding the use of ultrasound across the clinical spectrum by cost-effectively bringing high performance ultrasound to the point of patient care. The company employs approximately 500 people worldwide.