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Boston Scientific (BSX) gave its first progress report on the Taxus drug-eluting stent launch somewhat earlier than expected. The medical device company issued its initial sales goal ($52-75 mln) for the first 23 days of sales (March 1-March 31), but decided to come out today with the results for the first 10 days of sales. Taxus's performance (revenues of approximately $42 mln) was basically on track with Boston Scientific's original targets for March 31, which leaves the question, why did management feel compelled to updates investors now?

A New York Times article that ran on Sunday is probably the answer to that question. The piece questioned the value of artery-opening methods, such as stents, by citing recent studies that showed basic lifestyle changes (like giving up smoking, taking up exercise, or starting a regimen of cholesterol-reducing drugs) are more effective in preventing heart attacks. New research has shed light on how heart attacks originate - instead of the old theory of plaque accumulating to the point that no blood can pass through, new evidence suggests heart attacks occur when an area of plaque bursts. In 75-80% of cases, the plaque that erupts was not obstructing an artery and would not be stented or bypassed.


With most physicians keenly aware that drug-eluting stents generally extend life (and are not a panacea for avoiding heart attacks), does not expect the NY Times's revelations to make any waves in the medical community. The idea of an additional treatment option in the war against cardiovascular disease is enough for most patients to ask for a stent - and that in itself is sometimes enough to get the wheels rolling. Revenues of drug-eluting stents are expected to reach $6 bln in the next four years, and Boston Scientific - with the most effective stent on the marketplace - should be a direct beneficiary of this.
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