Boston Scientific

2014 med tech R&D budget: $817 billion
Change from 2013 budget ($859 million): -4.9%
Percent of 2014 segment sales ($7.46 billion): 10.95%

R&D spending continued to decline at Boston Scientific ($BSX). The company spent $886 million on R&D in 2012, making the two-year end trend even more startling.

But that didn't stop the company from opening an R&D center in Gurgaon, India, located near the capital city of New Delhi. Boston Sci also has international R&D facilities in China and Ireland. Other international efforts include strengthening professional education and training capabilities in Russia and China, according to the annual report. The company operates physician training centers in France, Japan, and China, and is currently developing such centers in India and South Africa, the report says.

The most prominent R&D effort is Boston Sci's just-announced leadless pacemaker program. It seeks to be the third entrant in the market following St. Jude Medical ($STJ) and Medtronic ($MDT). Boston Scientific's fast-selling S-ICD has shown the potential of cardiology products that eliminate or lessen the use of leads, albeit in the related but distinct market for implantable defibrillators.

Boston Scientific Senior Vice President Dr. Ken Stein said at a conference that the "bigger opportunity in leadless pacing" is pairing a leadless pacemaker with the S-ICD for patients who need both types of devices.

The company isn't a big player in the diabetes arena, but it is reportedly developing a minimally invasive injection procedure as part of a European consortium that's studying a new way of delivering insulin to diabetics.

The company's ongoing U.S. clinical trials include a 100-person test of its Vessix renal denervation device and two trials studying its FDA-approved Precision Spinal Cord Stimulator System for chronic pain.

The annual report says that Boston Scientific employs 3,000 staff devoted to R&D.

Boston Scientific says the 4.9% decrease in R&D spending "was due primarily to the benefits from our initiatives to transform our research and development efforts to be more effective and cost efficient, as well as the timing of certain R&D programs." While the company blamed "restructuring programs" for the decline between 2012 and 2013, that term was not invoked to describe the more recent reduction in R&D spending. -- Varun Saxena (email | Twitter)

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