Renal denervation devices wow EU docs

The first renal denervation devices have made it onto the European market, offering relief for patients with drug-resistant hypertension, and doctors are impressed with their effectiveness.

As Reuters reports, physicians at the European Society of Cardiology's annual meeting were effusive about the new crop of hypertension devices made by Medtronic ($MDT), St. Jude Medical ($STJ) and Vessix Vascular, among others. The devices work by creating tiny scars in the kidneys to deaden nerves and reduce blood pressure, without the use of blood-thinning drugs, and the results suggest "a fountain of youth for blood vessels in patients with therapy-resistant hypertension," one physician said.

And market analysts are just as optimistic. Brokerage firm Jefferies estimates annual sales of renal denervation devices could reach $2.8 billion by 2020, and devicemakers are racing to develop and market the devices to cash in on that potential.

At the moment, none of the devices has FDA approval, and renal denervation is indicated in Europe only for severe, drug-resistant hypertension. But, as positive results pour in, that's likely to change over the next 5 years, American Heart Association President Dr. Gordon Tomaselli told Reuters. If the devices continue to show results, it's likely they'll be used to treat all forms of hypertension, he said, making them even more lucrative for devicemakers.

Leading the way is Medtronic, which sells Symplicity in Europe and is conducting an IDE study targeting FDA approval in 2015. St. Jude has a CE mark for its EnligHTN device, as does Covidien ($COV) for OneShot and Vessix for its V2 tech. Boston Scientific ($BSX) is looking to enter the fray, announcing plans to get a CE mark for its RDN device next year.

As more and more devicemakers bring renal denervation techs to market, the question becomes one of effectiveness and speed, as physicians polled by Millennium Research Group this month said they want the biggest blood pressure drop for the longest time at the lowest price. That sets up a large-scale squabble between rival firms, and Medtronic and St. Jude have already argued over study data, while Vessix maintains that its product works 7-times as fast as Symplicity.

- read the Reuters story

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