The results of a follow-up Swedish study presented Sunday in Vienna indicate that drug-coated stents do not increase death risk. The only companies that sell such stents in the U.S. are Boston Scientific (the Taxus) and Johnson & Johnson, which sells the Cypher through its Cordis unit. The new data contradict a study completed last year that indicated drug-coated stents increase the likelihood of fatal blood clots by 18%. That result precipitated a sharp drop in sales of the stents around the world. In the new study, the Uppsala Clinical Research Centre concluded that the stents are no more dangerous than bare-metal stents, but that patients should be monitored to evaluate their ability to tolerate the anti-blood-clotting drugs used after the surgery. The study was the largest ever to compare stents, involving 13,786 patients with drug-coated stents and 21,480 patients with bare-metal stents. The better result might be attributable to more sophisticated stents, longer use of Plavix (made by sanofi-aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb), and better surgical techniques. "These data don't change substantially the evidence we've had in the past year," said Mayo Clinic cardiologist Raymond Gibbons. "I don't think we can place too much emphasis on these data until we understand why it happened."
Sources: Forbes, Bloomberg, Dow Jones
Commentary: Boston Scientific: A Buyout Waiting to Happen • The Long Case for Boston Scientific • Judge Limits J&J's Claims Against Boston Scientific
Stocks/ETFs to watch: BSX, JNJ, SNY, BMY. Competitors: MDT, STJ, PG, NVS. ETFs: IHE, PPH, IHI
Earnings call transcript: Boston Scientific Q2 2007, Johnson & Johnson Q2 2007
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