Saturday, October 20, 2007

Business Fallout from Stent Safety Concerns

As the Wall Street Journal reports, the after-effects of the heart-stent safety problems are causing much discussion among doctors who are meeting 30 years after the first balloon-angioplasty procedure.  Here's an excerpt from the article -- As Stent Sales Stall, Cardiologists Look to Reduce Safety Concerns, by Ron Winslow:

It was 30 years ago that pioneering cardiologist Andreas Gruentzig performed the first balloon-angioplasty procedure on a heart patient, giving birth to a specialty that has transformed treatment of coronary-artery disease in the past two decades.

But as interventional cardiologists toast their founding father at a big conference beginning this weekend in Washington, D.C., the glass-clinking will be muted by the sober state of their business -- in particular the status of its flagship device known as the drug-eluting stent.

Johnson & Johnson reported this week that sales of its Cypher stent plunged more than 40% in the third quarter from a year earlier; revenue for Boston Scientific Corp.'s Taxus stent, Cypher's only current rival in the U.S., fell 22%, and Boston Scientific announced a restructuring that includes laying off 2,300 workers.

The devices are tiny metal sleeves implanted to prop open diseased arteries; the drug-coated version minimizes chances that the stent will reclog within a few months, a problem that has required redo procedures for about 15% to 20% of bare-metal ones.

The Wall Street Journal also provides more in-depth treatment of the stent-related losses at Boston Scientific -- Boston Scientific Posts Loss As It Restructures, by Jon Kamp.


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