If Behind, Look Two-Steps Ahead: Guidant Launches Bioabsorbable Stent Group
This article was originally published in Start Up
In a recent series of deals, Guidant looked both to make-up lost ground in the drug-eluting stent race and leap-frog ahead to the next-next big thing in stents by creating a separate business unit dedicated to developing a bioabsorbable stent.
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Biosensors International has not only developed a new stent, coating, and delivery technology in-house, but has also come up with its own drug, a rarity among small stent companies. Biosensors has adopted an aggressive dealmaking strategy much more akin to a large device or drug company, than a small firm. The result is that Biosensors has entered into alliances with big companies, including Guidant, and start-ups that have turned what until recently was a small interventional cardiology OEM company into one of the most innovative players in the drug-eluting stent market.
Drug-eluting stents (DES), now approved in the US, will be the first blockbuster combination drug/device product to hit the market. First generation DES products use a stent design that remains basically unchanged from bare metal stents, bascially adding thin layers of drug and polymer coatings. Conor Medsystems is developing a stent that is specifically designed as a drug delivery vehicle, while still embodying the attributes required of a standard stent. Conor's stent is based on work done by an engineer with no expereince in the medical products industry, based on technology developed in other areas, bringing a fresh look to the future of combining drugs and stents that may extend to therapeutic applications beyond treating only cardiovascular disease.
After apparently exhausting every other means of obtaining access to the drug it needs to enter the drug-eluting stent market as quickly as possible, Guidant's decision to acquire Cook Group for $3 billion hinges on whether a Federal judge agrees with Guidant's argument that the deal doesn't result in an ownership change of the Cook Group's Cook Inc. subsidiary.