John Lamb, a retired auto mechanic in New Zealand, was the first patient to get one of Abbott Laboratories’ experimental heart stents to treat chest pains. In a sense, he now has nothing to show for it -- as doctors intended all along.
Abbott’s stent, a scaffold-like device the size of the spring in a ballpoint pen, was inserted into one of Lamb’s coronary arteries in March 2006 and inflated under pressure to prop open the passage, which had been clogged by fatty plaque. Unlike metal stents, Abbott’s is made of polylactic acid and designed to dissolve within two years after implant. It left a healthy, unencumbered vessel, John Ormiston, Lamb’s doctor in Auckland, tells Bloomberg Businessweek in its Sept. 13 edition.
If studies confirm the device helps arteries and disappears without causing clots or other risks linked to metal models, the product may take the lead in the $4 billion-a-year market for drug-coated stents, as it would be safer for patients, said John Capek, Abbott Park, Illinois-based Abbott’s executive vice president of medical devices. Demand would fall for Abbott’s Xience stent and rivals from Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific Corp. and Medtronic Inc., he said.