As Stent Business Falls Apart, Field Gets More Crowded

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Medtronic (MDT) got the FDA to approve its new drug-coated stent called the Endeavor. The agency did have some concerns about whether the product has long-term risks or whether it is more effective than drug treatments.

Stents, the little metal supports that keep blocked arteries open, have come under whithering criticism in the medical community. The negative press has almost ruined the business for Boston Scientific (BSX) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) BSX, which relies heavily on the product has watched its stock fall from $27 in December 2005 to its current level below $15.

The stent companies hoped that if they coated their products with drugs that would prevent clotting where they were installed, it would help. It does not appear to have worked out that way.

This much is for certain. As demand for stents slackens, the number of players in the market is moving up.

Douglas A. McIntyre