J&J markets stent directly to patients

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Dec. 6 – On Thanksgiving Day, during the Dallas Cowboys and N.Y. Jets football game, Cordis, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, became the first medical device maker to market a stent directly to consumers, according to The New York Times.

In additional to television commercials, the J &J campaign includes advertising in national newspapers and magazines. The company also is conducting a concurrent effort to promote the Cypher stent to doctors in professional journals. Cordis has set up a website, as an online marketing destination and information clearinghouse for patients and doctors, The NY Times reported.

“We think we have a good safety story to tell, and we want to encourage heart patients to talk about it with their doctors,” said David E. Kandzari, MD, chief medical officer at Cordis told The NY Times. “And we want them to know Cypher’s track record when newer, less proven stents reach the market.”

One of the most pressing reasons for this campaign might be in response to the recent decisions by the Circulatory System Devices Advisory Panel to the FDA to recommend that Abbott Laboratories’ Xience V and Medtronic’s Endeavor drug-eluting stents be cleared for use on the U.S. market. J &J last week filed its fourth lawsuit this year to prevent Abbott’s stent from being released on the U.S. market.

The NY Times reported that the campaign has drawn criticism from doctors who oppose direct-to-consumer advertising of drugs and devices, and especially among doctors who contend that stents are being implanted too often. “It’s deplorable,” said William E. Boden, MD, a professor of medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “You’ve got to wonder whether it’s a sign of desperation.”

According to The NY Times, the company’s motivation might be failing stent sales by nearly 40 percent in the United States in the past few years and the impending competition from Medtronic and Abbott Labs in the coming year.
In regard to the current campaign, Jason Wittes, a medical device stock analyst at Leerink Swann told The NY Times that “It may offset some of the negative publicity about drug-eluting stents, but I doubt it will shift market share.”