Unable to Get Prized Cow, Guidant Buys Cook's Farm--Maybe
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.
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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.
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.