Biosensors: Small Company Turns Major Dealmaker
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.
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Guidant appears to be the leader among the large cardiovascular device companies in pursuing device-based therapies for vulnerable plaque. The company's latest move in this space is a collaboration with Miravant Medical Technologies regarding using photodynamic therapy as a possible treatment for vulnerable plaque lesions.
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.
Medtronic and Guidant need to play catch-up in the stent race to see who's going to be third behind Cordis/J&J's Cypher, which is approved in the US, and Boston Scientific's Taxus, which is expected to be approved shortly. A key component of Medtronic's and Guidant's competitive strategies will be deciding whether to do trials in the US vs. doing them internationally. Medtronic is doing its pivotal study in Europe, while Guidant is doing its in the US.