Survey: Half of docs less confident in Boston Scientific after defib hold

April 8, 2010 by MassDevice staff

A survey indicates that Boston Scientific's suspension of its defibrillator operations caused doctors' confidence in the company's products to plunge, with more than half of those polled saying they're less likely to use BSX devices in the future.

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A survey of 70 electrophysiologists indicates that the impact of Boston Scientific Corp.'s (NYSE:BSX) suspension of its defibrillator operations last month will have long-lasting consequences for the medical device maker.

Majestic Research polled the docs on their reaction to the Natick, Mass.-based company's March 15 decision to voluntarily stop shipment and pull all defibrillator inventory from the field. Fifty-six percent reported that the news "negatively impacted their perceptions of the overall quality of Boston Scientific's ICD devices," according to a press release, while 52 percent said they were less likely to use BSX devices in the future because of the issue.

The company decided to make the move after discovering that it had failed to notify the Food & Drug Administration of a pair of changes to its manufacturing processes. In one case the company changed a cleaning process to standardize that portion of the operation; in the other BSX added a new component supplier. Both changes were fully validated, but Boston Scientific neglected to pass that information on to the FDA.

Majestic Research director and senior medical device analyst Philip Legendy said the problem is a potentially huge boon for Boston Scientific's main competitors for the implantable cardiac defibrillator market, St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE:STJ) and Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT).

"Boston Scientific's decision to suspend sales puts one-third of the market up for grabs, an extraordinary opportunity for those positioned to supply the market in the interim," Legendy said in prepared remarks. "Given their historical sales footprint, we expected to see Medtronic outpacing St. Jude's share of the new business at a ratio of about two to one. Our study suggests, however, that St. Jude is running only 13 points of share behind Medtronic in converting physicians who formerly preferred Boston Scientific ICDs."