Medtronic, Boston Scientific battle in declining cardiac device market

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Medtronic's ($MDT) U.S. launch this week of a new cardiac resynchronization therapy device triggered a nasty advertising battle with arch-rival Boston Scientific ($BSX).

As the Star Tribune reports, the fight amounts to a war of diminishing returns, considering that cardiac rhythm devices sales have long been on a downward trend, battered by the global economy, reimbursement and pricing pressures. So the remaining players in the space fiercely fight to protect their share of the space, with launches of new products and aggressive advertising intended to sway doctors and other providers in their favor.

Which brings us to the Medtronic/Boston Scientific advertising fight. Earlier this week, Medtronic disclosed it won FDA approval to market its Viva cardiac resynchronization therapy device (CRT-D), slyly noting in its promotional material that it does a more efficient job in resynchronizing the heart rate of patients suffering from heart failure (with an ability to continuously adapt). Medtronic also says its device can help cut heart failure-related hospital admissions. But as the Star Tribune notes, Boston Scientific sent its own pitch to physicians, touting its Incepta CRT-D device (approved in 2011) and other related models as superior to Viva and other Medtronic models, and also longer lasting when set at similar energy levels.

Medtronic, in turn, issued a statement trashing the Boston Scientific ad as a "misleading" effort that doesn't accurately reflect how Medtronic's devices work, according to the article.

From a distance, the back-and-forth all seems rather exhausting. But even in a declining market, there are billions of dollars at stake. Piper Jaffray & Co. senior analyst Thomas Gunderson told the Star Tribune that Medtronic has a whopping $18 billion share of the cardiac rhythm management market--the winner by about half. And Boston Scientific and St. Jude Medical ($STJ) are left to fight over what's left. That makes these advertising battles crucial. Companies promote every detail of their products that might make them stand out, the article notes, from being well-made to helping reduce hospital admissions. In other words, the declining cardiac rhythm management market remains fiercely competitive--brutal even--and that won't stop any time soon.

- read the full Star Tribune story

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