Nov 1, 2011Science and Technology
Analysis: Comparing the latest stents from rivals Abbott and Medtronic

On October 31st, the company Medtronic received US Federal Food and Drug Administration approval to treat Narrow Iliac arteries with the use of the Cobalt Chromium Balloon Expendable Stent.


A day later, the company Abbottt received an FDA approval for the Drug Eluting Stent XIENCE PRIME.

This may seem like coincidental timing, but Medtronic and Abbottt have long been rivals in the medical industry. Stents, in particular, led to a lawsuit in 2009 which forced Medtronic to pay $400 million to Abbott to settle lawsuits in relation to the design of artery-opening stents.


They agreed not to sue each other for at least 10 years in regards to stents. At issue was the the manufacture, use, and design of stents, as well as the system physicians used to insert them into a patient’s body.

It is no surprise, then, that at first glance, both products appear to be very similar; both are stents created by critically acclaimed companies that have long been rivals in stent technology.

A stent is a metal tube inside of which is an expandable tiny balloon. The stent is then inserted into the blood vessels undergoing stenosis, or a constriction of the blood vessels, to expand within the vessel and  provide support for maximum blood flow .


A “drug eluting” stent refers to a stent that is coated in a drug to intervene with the biological process of restenosis, or a return of a constricted vessel, thereby prolonging the efficacy of the stent.

Medtronic’s stent offers a  unique modular design that is ultra thin and  round with edgeless struts and innovative chromium cobalt technology. Abbottt’s stent features great flexibility, ideal radical strength, excellent longitudinal strength, accurate placement, chromium cobalt technology, and is one of the thinnest drug eluting stents available.

The stent created by Medtronic fights the narrowing of peripheral arteries whose side effects can include leg pain.  The stent from Abbottt is used to improve and increase bloodflow to the heart whose flow would have otherwise been constricted due to a build  up of fatty material or plaque.

Given Medtronic’s own development of the zotarolimus for drug eluting, the continued evolution of stent technology will owe its rapid advances to the contentious rivalry between Medtronic and Abbott. Since Abbott owns the rights to market several of Medtronic’s stent delivery systems, the temporary legal ceasefire between the medical giants will continue to fuel a cold war of product competition.

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