PCR's Pas de Deux
As it has for each of the past several years, much of the discussion at this year's Paris Course on Revascularization (PCR) centered on drug-eluting stents. From the latest results of the Taxus and Endeavor clinical trials to reports of the marketplace battle between Cypher and Taxus, drug-eluting stents are dominated by large companies. But we're only at the beginning of drug-eluting stents' technology race, and small companies, with innovative approaches to everything from delivery systems to fundamental biology, will increasingly make their voices heard as new technology comes out of the lab. And they're likely to use collaborations with others, particularly other start-ups, as a means of getting to market faster.
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With each passing year, clinical trials reaffirm the efficacy of drug-eluting stents in reducing or eliminating restenosis. But the devices' success have raised concerns of a different sort: safety, and specifically, the risk of subacute and late stent thrombosis.
Over the past five years, big cap device companies have been some of the strongest performers among all life science stocks, and this year's conference represented something of a renaissance of device companies. However, most interesting wasn't so much the revival of interest in device stocks itself, but the message that device companies sent and that investors are embracing: "Forget about the hype; slow and steady wins the race."
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.