Devicemakers plot paths out of CRM funk

Cardiac rhythm management isn't exactly a growth industry. Across the world, medical device companies are dealing with stagnant demand, pricing pressures and reimbursement cuts for pacemakers and ICDs, and the pain is plenty evident on their balance sheets.

According to numbers from Evaluate MedTech, all of the top 5 cardiac device sellers posted CRM revenue declines last year, ranging from low single digits to nearly 10% drops for the worst-hit. And no one's predicting much of a market uptick. Analysts figure the mounting concerns over device overuse and safety, compounded by the above-mentioned regulatory woes, will spell tepid growth at best.

But, for devicemakers that draw the lion's share of their revenue from CRM sales, grinning and bearing the continued decline just isn't an option. Instead, companies are getting creative in trying to outpace macro trends.

Boston Scientific ($BSX) is all-in on the S-ICD, a subcutaneous defibrillator that eschews majorly invasive surgery. Medtronic ($MDT) has set its sites on emerging markets, looking to bolster its presence in the Chinese heart market by trading $66.2 million for a 26.4% stake in that country's LifeTech Scientific. Meanwhile, Biotronik is focused on developing novel CRM devices for unmet needs, Sorin is chasing new indications for its existing technologies and St. Jude Medical ($STJ) is fighting a cavalcade of hints and allegations to prove its heart devices are safe and efficacious.

Join us for a look at that uphill battle, with details on how the top 5 sellers of CRM devices fared in 2012 compared to the year before, coupled with a glimpse at each's plans to turn those reddened figures back to black in 2013. -- Damian Garde (email | Twitter)

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Devicemakers plot paths out of CRM funk
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