If the cardiovascular industry is to be evaluated by the words of French modernist writer and renowned aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery, vendors like Medtronic could easily claim triumph despite the tumbling economy, with the sheer volume of activity over the past week.
On Tuesday, the medical device giant spent more than $1 billion on two heart valve companies, CoreValve and Ventor Technologies--neither of which have approved devices in the U.S., but both tout the benefit of their products for patients who are not strong surgical candidates. Despite the lack of U.S. regulatory approvals, the acquisitions could eventually grow Medtronic's stake in the U.S. heart valve market, currently valued at $650 million, according to market research firm Frost & Sullivan
Also on Tuesday, Medtronic announced that it would voluntarily disclose annual payments of $5,000 or more to U.S. physicians for all of its businesses, starting in 2010. However, this amount falls short of the current Physician Payments Sunshine Act in Congress that is seeking to require device and drug makers to publicly report annual payments of $100 or more to physicians.
A new study in the journal HeartRhythm also brought Medtronic into the public's focus, because researchers found that the failure rates of the company's Sprint Fidelis defibrillator leads increase over time, and its failure rates far outweigh similar devices on the market. Lead researcher, Dr. Robert G. Hauser, told Cardiovascular Business News that the device's fatigue mechanism is to blame for the fault tendencies. He also noted that managing partients who have the Sprint Fidelis implanted is quite difficult.
Another flurry of activity occurred on the imaging and informatics vendor side, when Amicas scooped up healthcare IT developer Emageon a mere eight days after Emageon's deal with Health Systems Solutions (HSS) fell through. Of note, Amicas also acquired Emageon for $39 million--$23 million less than what HSS offered.
Other deals in and out of the works this week--Sanofi is finalizing its bid to take over Czech generic pharma company Zentiva for $2 billion; CV Therapeutics rejected another $1 billion offer from Astellas Pharma; and Cardiovascular Systems has completed its $37 million merger with Replidyne.
If "victory is a thing of action," as de Saint-Exupery suggests, then these cardiovascular medical device makers are going to achieve a victorious year in today's tough economic times by bulking up their pipelines and solidifying their public image.
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Justine Cadet, News Editor