Considering Guidant's ( GDT) recall woes last year and the bidding war Boston Scientific ( BSX) ultimately won for the medical-device maker, investors might be forgiven if they temporarily forgot that stents and defibrillators weren't all there was to cardiac care. The American College of Cardiology's annual meeting, beginning this weekend in Atlanta, will serve to remind everyone that heart care is a much broader field, because one of the main focuses of the gathering will be on drugs for heart attacks and other vascular conditions. While the ACC meeting doesn't have the hype machine of the American Society of Clinical Oncology's yearly extravaganza, it's at least equally important. After all, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the U.S.
Previous studies of Angiomax showed a reduction in bleeding complications compared with heparin, even in high-risk patients, the company says. If the results of the head-to-head trial, dubbed Acuity, are positive for Angiomax, biotech analyst Joseph Schwartz of Leerink Swann says the potential for new labeling could lift Medicines' stock and eventually serve as a key revenue driver. Should the data prove compelling enough, Schwartz expects the company to seek Food and Drug Administration clearance to market Angiomax as a treatment for acute coronary syndromes, in addition to its use with percutaneous coronary intervention. Schwartz believes the company might apply for the new indication in the second quarter of this year for a possible approval early in 2007. Leerink has provided noninvestment-banking services to Medicines Co.
Meanwhile, Encysive Pharmaceuticals ( ENCY) is scheduled to report results from its late-stage safety and efficacy trial of a drug for treating pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare disease in which constant high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery causes stiffness and thickening in the artery walls, hampering circulation. Of course, don't think the big device makers are going to be shut out. Johnson & Johnson's ( JNJ) Cordis unit is set to release trial data on its Cypher drug-eluting stent in patient groups such as those experiencing heart attacks and those with long coronary lesions. J&J was on the losing end of the fight for Guidant. And what would a cardiology meeting be without a debate on the safety of implanted defibrillators, namely, how and when to use them and who should receive them? That's scheduled for Sunday.