Defying Conventional Wisdom, Boston Scientific Admits Taxus Stent Causes Blood Clots but not Heart Attacks or Strokes

Safety concerns over drug-coated stents used for angioplasty procedures began are nothing new. Fear of blood clots and other complications associated with these stents began to surface shortly after the new devices came to market. However, two recent developments have doctors and patients contemplating if the devices should be used at all. Data presented at a recent European cardiology meeting has convinced some researchers that drug-coated stents do increase the risk of blood clots. And just yesterday, Boston Scientific admitted that their <"">Taxus drug-coated stent increases the risk of blood clots, but denied these clots increased the risk of heart attack or stroke. Admitting that Taxus stents cause blood clots, but not heart attacks or strokes has left many medical professionals quite confused, since it is widely known that blood clots can cause both of these life threatening conditions.

Perhaps Boston Scientific is worried about what life would look like if drug-coated stents were no longer used. It is estimated that Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson generated over $5 billion in drug-coated stent sales last year alone. Losing a vital revenue stream could be devastating for Boston Scientific. Wall Street is still wary about the company’s acquisition of Guidant, who is facing numerous lawsuits from patients who received faulty defibrillators and pacemakers. Boston Scientific also faces new competition in the stent market from Abbott Laboratories, Medtronic and Conor Medsystems.

Johnson & Johnson brought the first drug-coated stent, <"">Cypher, to market over three years ago. Drug-coated stents were introduced to combat restinosis, re-clogging of the arteries, that was common with plain metal stents. Restinosis often required the need for secondary angioplasty. Drug-coated stents, like Taxus and Cypher, use a drug and polymer coating to prevent Restinosis, making the need for secondary angioplasty less frequent.

Due to growing concern about blood clots, many doctors prescribe blood thinners for long periods of time after a drug-coated stent is used. However, the use of blood thinners also comes with risk. <"">Plavix, a drug commonly prescribed to angioplasty patients, has been linked with serious ulcers. Other popular blood thinners, including Heparin and Lovenox, also come with a long list of potential side effects. The longer the blood thinners are prescribed, the greater the risk of experiencing their side effects.

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