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Guidant Hammered on Stent News

The company finds issues in its manufacturing.
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News that

Guidant

(GDT)

found unidentified "issues" in the technology with which it produces coronary stents sent its stock into freefall Wednesday afternoon and boosted the shares of a competitor.

"Recently, Guidant has identified issues with regard to the Champion stainless steel stent platform that may result in manufacturing process modifications and/or stent design changes," it said in a release. "The company continues to investigate these issues.

"If the problems identified only require a manufacturing process change, it would allow for an

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investigative device exemption filing in June. Alternatively, if a stent design change is required, a delay of the IDE filing of up to six months is possible," Guidant said.

The company said that if necessary, Jay Graf, a co-group chairman who announced his intention to retire earlier this month, will postpone his departure until the issues are resolved. The company said that should be no later than the end of 2004.

The shares were recently down $6.64, or 11%, to $53.85. Shares of

Boston Scientific

(BSX) - Get Report

were up $4.66, or 11.5%, to $45.02 on the news. Boston Scientific's drug-coated stent, Taxus, has been on the U.S. market since early March.