Next-Generation Coronary Stent Start-Ups: Making a Difference in a Mature Market
This article was originally published in Start Up
Which kinds of innovations make for incremental enhancements in the hands of large companies and which are meaningful enough to sustain a venture-backed start-up company? In a mature market for coronary stents dominated by large companies, start-ups developing new stents need to find the answers. Areas of innovation fall into four basic categories: improving stent safety and biocompatibility, avoiding the need for dual antiplatelet therapy, enhancing deliverability, and introducing specialty stents for complex vessels. Three companies profiled here have a plan for taking sufficient market share, reducing risk, and rewarding investors.
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Growth by innovation is almost considered a birthright in interventional cardiology, and based on presentations at this year's Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics meeting, held this September in San Francisco, it seems clear that innovation still reigns supreme in this specialty. However, as in other medical device markets, ongoing economic and regulatory pressures are taking their toll, particularly in the drug-eluting stent market, as the field adjusts to a new era of cost control and economic uncertainty.
The new realities of the drug-eluting stent market are evident in recent sales results from the big competitors, driving many of them to branch into other higher growth areas.
Boston Scientific's unique two-drug strategy has propelled the company to a leadership position in drug-eluting stents with, according to some estimates, more than 50% of the market. Yet the company is not relying on the current configurations of or the current manufacturing approaches for its Taxus (using paclitaxel) and Promus (which employs everolimus) stents to sustain its position on top of this highly competitive product area. With its acquisition this month of Galway, Ireland-based Labcoat Ltd. (terms of which were not disclosed), BSC is laying the groundwork for technology that may well define its next generation of drug-eluting stents.