Zephyr Valve Now Covered By 2 More Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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Two additional Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) plans are now covering Pulmonx’s Zephyr Endobronchial Valve and similar devices to treat severe emphysema, a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

With the addition of these two plans to similar previous policy decisions, valves will be now covered for the majority of the 69 million people in the U.S. who are insured through BCBS, according to Pulmonx.

“We applaud these Blues plans for giving their members with severe COPD/emphysema access to a minimally invasive option to breathe easier and get back to doing the things they enjoy,” Glen French, president and CEO of Pulmonx, said in a press release.

These decisions were “based on strong clinical data showing the safety and long-term positive benefits to patients treated with [Zephyr] valves,” French added.

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The Zephyr Valve is a device that can be used for bronchoscopic lung volume reduction (BLVR), a non-surgical procedure where a flexible bronchoscope is used to insert a valve and block off diseased sections of the lungs. This prevents air from getting trapped and allows for healthier parts of the lungs to take in more air.

Using this approach in emphysema patients has been evaluated in several clinical trials, including LIBERATE (NCT01796392), TRANSFORM (NCT02022683), and IMPACT (NCT02025205). These three trials, all sponsored by Pulmonx, collectively enrolled 380 people with severe emphysema.

Results from the various trials have shown that BLVR using the Zephyr Valve can lead to substantial improvements in lung function, exercise ability, and quality of life. In the U.S., the Zephyr Valve was approved in 2018 for use in adults with severe emphysema.

With these new policies, the Zephyr Valve and other endobronchial valves used for BLVR will now be covered by BCBS Michigan — the fourth largest BCBS commercial plan in the U.S. and the largest private insurer in the state of Michigan — as well as Horizon BCBS, the sixth largest BCBS commercial plan in the country, which covers people in New Jersey. Together, these plans provide health insurance to nearly 10 million people, according to Pulmonx.

“The BCBS coverage for bronchoscopic lung volume reduction (BLVR) is an incredible example of medical professionals working together to ensure the latest technologies being made available to all patients who can benefit from them,” said Michael Simoff, MD, interventional pulmonologist at Henry Ford Health System in Michigan.