2011 sales: $1.5 billion (estimated)
Maker: Abbott Laboratories ($ABT)
Back story: Abbott's Xience stent created drama in the marketplace even before it gained FDA approval in 2008. At least four times in 2007, Johnson & Johnson ($J&J) tried to keep it off the market through various lawsuits claiming patent infringement (that Xience used a drug similar to the one that coats J&J's Cypher stent). Then an advisory panel backed Xience with a qualified endorsement expressing caution about the safety of drug-eluting stents. There's also the sense of timing: Xience entered the stent market as the market began to crater. But Xience rocketed to the top and has remained there at least since 2009, with sales of the stent and various updates (Xience Expedition, Xience Prime, etc.) hitting a cool $1 billion and then $1.4 billion a year later. Will Xience hit the top spot in 2012? That's pretty likely, in part because Abbott boosted market share for the product at the expense of nearly all of its rivals.
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