St. Jude may lose defibrillator lead partner

St. Jude Medical's ($STJ) long-time partner in developing defibrillator leads is threatening to pull out of their arrangement because of "material breaches" in their deal.

Proactiveinvestors UK reports that AorTech has given St. Jude 30 days to deal with those undisclosed issues, or their partnership will end.

Is the name AorTech not familiar? The company manufactures polymers used for all kinds of medical devices. And as MedCity News has reported, AorTech makes Elast-Eon polymer insulation that St. Jude rebranded as Optim for use in its Durata defibrillator leads. Durata leads are crucial to St. Jude, especially after the company pulled its predecessor Riata leads from the market and the FDA's subsequent Class I recall over Riata safety problems. Durata is designed to be a far safer replacement, but its future is placed in jeopardy if a crucial component is no longer part of the manufacturing process.

Initial trouble over the companies' relationship erupted over the summer when, according to MedCity News, AorTech said it was up for sale and AorTech's CEO asserted that St. Jude may have licensed the technology. But Aortech still owns the material itself. Now AorTech is looking to sell just its polymers business, according to Proactiveinvestors UK. If the deal between both companies falls apart, the news site tells us that St. Jude will keep "assets to manufacture polymers" but won't have the right to AorTech's intellectual property or the ability to use its proprietary manufacturing process.

- read the Proactiveinvestors UK story
- here's the MedCity News article