Boston Scientific partners with Bard to distribute Lutonix drug-coated angioplasty balloon in the U.S.

C.R. Bard's Lutonix Drug Coated Balloon

The market for drug-coated angioplasty balloons to treat peripheral artery disease has been bursting with activity in recent months. Boston Scientific ($BSX) joined the parade today, albeit as a distributor.

The company announced an agreement with C.R. Bard ($BCR) to distribute the company's Lutonix DCB in the U.S. as part of a bid to expand the reach of the device, which became the first drug-coated balloon to be approved by the FDA last fall. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"Drug-coated balloons are a growing part of the treatment algorithm for peripheral artery disease and provide an alternative in the event a physician chooses not to place a permanent implant or scaffold," said the president of Boston Scientific's peripheral interventions division, Jeff Mirviss, in a statement. "We believe Bard's Lutonix DCB is a great addition to our broad portfolio of vascular products."

CEO Timothy M. Ring indicated during the company's Q4 2014 conference call that the Lutonix earned revenue in the high teens during the quarter. Also CFO John H. Weiland said the Lutonix is "certainly an opportunity for us to use that call point (with the surgeon) more efficiently." The distribution agreement with Boston Scientific figures to help in that effort.

The Lutonix has been available for use in Europe since 2012. Ring said during this year's JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco that the DCB has a market share of about 30% in Europe and is taking a larger slice of the pie from competitors like Medtronic ($MDT).

Medtronic earned FDA approval for its IN.PACT Admiral drug-coated balloon in January, setting up a clash between the two competitors in the U.S. as well.

Both companies' products are approved to treat peripheral artery disease (PAD) in the upper leg. Expanding the Lutonix's indication is a big part of Bard's strategy. It is conducting clinical trials in the U.S. to expand Lutonix's indication for patients with PAD below the knee, in-stent restenosis, and hemodialysis patients requiring an arteriovenous access point.

There are two other Lutonix drug-coated balloon catheters available outside the U.S., according to Bard's international product website, including one for coronary conditions.

Meanwhile, Boston Scientific has high drug-coated balloon hopes as well. It sells the CE-marked Ranger DCB for PAD and Agent DCB for coronary conditions in international markets.

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