Abbott Stent Outperforms Boston Scientific’s in Study

Abbott Laboratories’ device for propping open clogged arteries prevented more heart attacks with fewer complications after two years than Boston Scientific’s rival product, a study found.

Patients with the Xience V stent sold by Abbott Park, Illinois-based Abbott were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or other major stent failure than those given Boston Scientific’s Taxus Express, Abbott-sponsored researchers found. Blood-clot formation, a serious complication, occurred 64 percent less often in the Xience group, according to a report presented today at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference in Washington.

The $4 billion global stent market is dominated by Xience and an identical version of that device called Promus made by Abbott and sold by Natick, Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific. Those products account for 60 percent of sales, said Jonathon Hamilton, an Abbott spokesman. The study’s findings may sway more doctors to choose Xience, said Gregg Stone, a cardiologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

“All the benefits you gained in one year in terms of better outcomes for patients were sustained” in the second year, Stone, the study’s lead investigator, said in a Sept. 17 phone interview. “You have a safer stent and it’s more efficacious. It’s created a very high benchmark for other stents to shoot out.”

Fatty Deposits

Stents are tiny wire-mesh tubes used to prop open arteries after surgeons have cleared them of fatty deposits that otherwise may obstruct blood flow. Devices from the current generation are coated with chemical polymer and drugs to prevent tissue from growing inside the stents and reblocking arteries, a complication of earlier, bare-metal versions.

The report presented today is a review of patients enrolled in a trial known as Spirit IV, funded by Abbott. The study followed 3,690 patients with coronary artery disease for two years after they each had one or more stents inserted in the arteries leading to their hearts.

“It’s important to note that the Spirit IV trial used our older Taxus Express Stent which is no longer commercially available and has been replaced by the Taxus Liberté Stent in the U.S.,” said Keith Dawkins, chief medical officer for Boston Scientific’s Cardiology, Rhythm and Vascular Group, in an e-mail today.

Among patients with the Abbott device, 6.9 percent had what’s known as target vessel failure, defined as a heart attack, cardiac death, or reclogging of the artery requiring repeat surgery, compared with 9.9 percent with Taxus. The Abbott stent also was associated with a lower rate of thrombosis, or blood clots; they occurred in 0.4 percent of Xience patients, compared with 1.2 percent for Taxus.

‘Really Important’

“When you have a million-plus procedures done per year, preventing clots in 8 patients per thousand is really important,” John Capek, Abbott’s executive vice-president for medical devices, said in a phone interview. The two-year data are especially significant given that many patients stop taking blood thinners a year after surgery, he said.

Previously presented results, one year into the study, showed that 4.2 percent of patients with the Xience stent had major cardiac events, compared with 6.8 percent of the Taxus group.

“It’s always comforting to have long-term confirmation of the data,” said Phillip Nalbone, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco, in a phone interview. “I think Xience/Promus will continue to see a trickle of gains.”

Abbott reported coronary-stent sales of $1.6 billion last year, 5 percent of total sales. Taxus stents made up $1.03 billion, or 13 percent, of Boston Scientific’s 2009 sales, according to a company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Abbott fell 39 cents to $51.60 at 4:03 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, while Boston Scientific declined 9 cents to $5.53.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ellen Gibson in New York at;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at

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