St. Jude Medical and Abbott announced Monday that they are expanding a marketing relationship, and striking a new distribution partnership such that they can present a bundled package of cardiovascular products to hospital customers.
A medical device marketing expert said that because the two companies have complementary products the partnership brings a potential competitive advantage. That’s because hospitals are reducing the access of medical device sales force to physicians who tend to go for the newest, and thereby the most expensive technology, said Gunter Wessels, a consultant with Total Innovations Group Inc.
“We are going to see more of these marketing relationships to get a return on the sales effort,” Wessels said. ” “There is not much overlap in terms of products between St. Jude and Abbott.”
Specifically, the relationship focuses on Abbott’s coronary and endovascular product portfolios, including the XIENCE family of everolimus eluting coronary stents, and St. Jude Medical’s portfolio of electrophysiology, cardiac rhythm management and cardiology technologies, including ablation catheters, pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), leads, fractional flow reserve (FFR) lesion assessment technology and optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging products.
The two companies had an alliance dating back to 2008, but under the terms of the new alliance, both Abbott and St. Jude Medical will jointly promote each other’s product offerings when developing contract solutions with U.S. hospitals. The goal is to present a comprehensive and bundled product portfolio. Further, through a separate distribution agreement, Abbott will be able to distribute the St. Jude Medical Ilumien PCI Optimization System, an integrated FFR and OCT platform, as well as the RadiAnalyzerXpress Measurement System, in the U.S.
“Through this arrangement, Abbott becomes the only stent manufacturer to offer physician customers both an advanced imaging technology with FFR to identify vessels for treatment, as well as the stent therapy physicians turn to most ’ our market-leading XIENCE family of everolimus eluting coronary stents,” saidLance Scott, divisional vice president and general manager, Coronary, Abbott Vascular, in a news release.
Wessels said thatgenerally hospitals tend to buy many more stents because under current treatment standards, doctors insert a series of stents to prevent arteries from being re-occluded. But St. Jude’s FFR and OCT technology has so far been able to show that as much stenting is not required.
“For Abbott, they can provide value to hospitals by saying that the hospitals can buy one or two (more expensive) Abott stents instead of having to buy many more” of a cheaper variety for a single coronary intervention,” Wessels noted.
While, in general he said this partnership was a “pretty good idea” he did caution that it is not without risk. One risk can come from the potential of diminishing returns on the sales effort.
“There are only so many clinical heart centers and both St. Jude Medical and Abbott have a presence there,” Wessels said. “If they end up stepping on each others toes” it will be negative.
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