Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Truck drivers are fish in big medical’s apnea barrel

I wish I could say this is news, but it’s something most truck drivers have become all too familiar with.

The Wall Street Journal reports this week that ResMed – maker of CPAPs – is “poised to benefit (from) a joint committee of key advisory boards to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.”

“This clearly represents a significant growth opportunity for ResMed and any progress towards improved OSA guidelines and/or mandated screening would be material,” Citi analyst Alex Smith said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As Land Line has reported, truck drivers with a body mass index, or BMI, of 35 or greater would be tested for sleep apnea.

During the last four years, however, Land Line has pointed out repeatedly how big medical companies are leveraging their influence with the FMCSA Medical Review Board to push for increased sleep testing of truckers. 

Sleep labs, the same ones that charge $2,000 to $3,000 for an overnight exam, have combined with large corporations who manufacture CPAP machines. These companies want a large share of the estimated 3 million CDL holders to be tested, with most of those tested required to purchase a CPAP.

“ResMed is pursuing multiple strategies to drive growth, of which the trucker’s opportunity is but one, and collectively these gives us confidence about ResMed’s medium-term outlook,” Mr. Smith added, according to the Journal.

With revenues approaching $1 billion annually, ResMed still isn’t the largest corporation involved in apnea. General Electric Co. has a subsidiary that makes CPAPs and happens to employ a medical doctor who also serves as chairman of the Medical Review Board.

In a nutshell, the Journal’s article and big medicine’s influence point out why an apnea regulation is being pursued: it’s easy money for those who have FMCSA’s ear.