Under pressure from doctors and patients, Aetna has backed off a controversial effort to restrict the use of a powerful sedative during colonoscopies.
The new policy, which was supposed to go into effect April 1, would have limited the use of propofol, also known as Diprivan, during screenings for colon cancer. The insurer said the drug, which renders patients unconscious, added unnecessary expense because it requires the presence of an anesthesiologist.
Aetna's chief medical officer, Dr. Troyen Brennan, had claimed that moderate sedation, which allows the patient to stay awake but drowsy during the procedure, is safe and cost-effective for most cases.
In beating a retreat from the cost-saving measure, Brennan said he feared the policy would "inconvenience our members … and potentially depress cancer screening rates."
Kris Hundley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or