March 17, 2009 / 11:11 PM / 11 years ago

Boston Sci on track for European stent launches

* Taxus Element stent set for October European launch

* Promus Element set for November European launch

* Boston Scientific says has 50 pct US DES market

By Bill Berkrot

NEW YORK, March 17 (Reuters) - Boston Scientific Corp (BSX.N) said on Tuesday it was on track to launch two new drug coated stents in Europe later this year with one possibly available in non-European Union countries as soon as next month.

Boston Scientific Chief Executive Jim Tobin also said as of last month that the company’s drug-eluting stents had captured 50 percent of the U.S. market, up from 49 percent. That is still shy of his goal of being clear No.1.

“If we can be 51 percent market share, than no one can be bigger,” Tobin said during a presentation at the Cowen and Co Health Care Conference in Boston.

The company previously said the next versions of both its Taxus and Promus drug-eluting stents would be available in Europe in late 2009.

Tobin was more specific on Tuesday, saying its Taxus Element would launch in October and that Promus Element was on track for a November launch and could be introduced in non-EU countries, such as Singapore, next month.

Taxus is Boston Scientific’s own stent system. Promus is its version of Abbott Laboratories’ (ABT.N) extremely successful new Xience stent.

As part of its $27 billion, 2006 acquisition of Guidant, Boston Scientific sold Guidant’s stent business to Abbott, but retained the right to sell Xience under the Promus brand name with 40 percent of the profit going to Abbott. Promus Element will fully belong to Boston Scientific.

Stents are tiny mesh tubes used to prop open arteries that have been cleared of plaque. The drug coating helps to prevent reclogging in the cleared artery.

A next generation stent using technology acquired from the Irish company Labcoat Ltd will be submitted for European regulatory review in the first half of this year and could theoretically also be available by late 2009, Tobin said.

“We’re going to have too many things to sell in Europe in back half of the year,” he joked.

The Labcoat technology allows the stent to be coated with medicine only on the outside rather than inside and out, potentially helping the artery to heal faster.

Tobin, 64, said the medical device maker will continue to be active in acquisitions, but nothing of the size of the Guidant deal or recently announced major drug mergers.

“I’m not anxious to go out and do this again,” he said. “I’m too old for that.” (Editing by Andre Grenon)

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