Study Shows Conflicts in Stent Industry

Too few influential doctors are telling the public if they have financial ties to the companies that make lifesaving drug-coated stents.

That's the conclusion of a new study being published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal called, "PLoS".

Heart Stent
Rick Lee

Researchers at Duke University looked at nearly 750 articles written in recent years by nearly three thousand doctors in 135 publications.  They found that 83 percent of the articles had no statements about conflicts while 16 percent of the pieces did contain disclosures.  They also discovered inconsistencies where a study author would reveal a conflict in one article but omit it from another.

The lead researcher says he was astonished and troubled by the extent of the problem which he believes breeds patient distrust.

Drug-coated tents are tiny wire-mesh tubes that prop open clogged arteries.  They’re a multi-billion dollar segment of the medical device industry.  Boston Scientific , Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic all sell them in the U.S..

But analysts expect the Food and Drug Administration to approve Abbott Labs' new drug-coated stent sometime this month.  Boston Scientific, under the somewhat complex terms of its acquisition of Guidant, would also get to sell Abbott’s stent, but under a different brand name.