Up until recently, acupuncture needles were considered experimental by the federal government and they were technically only allowable for investigation or research purposes. Although individual states’ lawsgovern the actual practice of acupuncture, federal laws have controlled the sale of the needles themselves.
On March 29, 1996, thanks to massive lobbying efforts by acupuncture organizations, the FDA reclassified needles as medical devices for general use by “qualified practitioners as determined by the States.”
What this means in practical terms is that insurance companies who were refusing to cover acupuncture will now be much more likely to change their policies. The FDA decision will also help the chances of Medicare and Medicaid programs paying for acupuncture treatment. This is a major victory for acupuncture and for complementary medicine. We are well on the way to acupuncture being included in every aspect of the health care system in the U.S.