BRIDGEWATER, N.J.—-Cordis Corporation, a leading developer and manufacturer of breakthrough treatments for cardiovascular disease, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. From its humble beginnings in a garage in Miami, Florida, Cordis has grown into a global organization with well over half of its $3.1 billion in 2008 sales coming from outside the U.S. The company’s products now touch an estimated one million patients every year.
“Our vision at Cordis is to transform cardiovascular care, a field in which incredible progress has been made, but one in which so much more remains to be done,” said Seth Fischer, Worldwide Franchise Chairman, Cordis Corporation. “We are grateful to the physicians and patients who have placed their trust in us during the past 50 years. Our legacy of success gives us confidence in our ability to continue delivering innovative new solutions that save lives and improve the quality of life for people around the world.”
“I am so proud of how far Cordis has come over the years,” said William P. Murphy, Jr., M.D., the company founder. “I look forward to seeing Cordis continue to innovate on behalf of patients and physicians around the world.”
Humble Origins, Numerous ‘Firsts’
Cordis was founded in 1957 in a garage in Miami, Florida, by Dr. Murphy, the son of a Nobel laureate. The company, originally named Medical Development Corporation, rapidly gained recognition as a pioneer in innovative products for interventional vascular medicine. In 1959, Dr. Murphy changed the company’s name to the more distinctive Cordis (“of the heart”), indicating its primary therapeutic focus.
During the 1960’s, Cordis became involved in the relatively new field of cardiac pacing and also introduced the first full line of “pre-shaped” Judkins catheters, a pre-formed catheter used in certain angioplasty procedures.
In the early 1970s, Cordis introduced the first sheath introducers with hemostasis valves, which were designed to minimize blood loss during an angioplasty procedure. By then, Cordis also ranked second only to Medtronic among America’s leading pacemaker manufacturers.
In the 1980s, Cordis launched a full line of percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) guiding catheters. In the early 1990s, Cordis introduced the first PTCA balloon utilizing nylon balloon material. All of these innovations immediately became industry standards.
Later in the decade, Cordis’s rapid growth attracted the attention of Johnson & Johnson, the world’s most comprehensive health care company, which had its own interventional business called Johnson & Johnson Intervention Systems (JJIS). In 1996, Cordis merged with JJIS to form Cordis Corporation, a global manufacturer of cardiac devices, with, at the time, approximately 3,500 employees worldwide.
In 1997, Cordis expanded into the rapidly growing field of electrophysiology through the acquisition of Biosense, Inc., which merged with Webster Laboratories in 1998 to form Biosense Webster.
Today, Biosense Webster is the world’s leading provider of innovative electrophysiology solutions for the treatment of heart rhythm disorders and is responsible for several “firsts” of its own, including the world’s first steerable catheter and ablation catheter, as well as the first mapping system offering electrophysiologists access to 3-D, real-time, color-coded views into the heart’s electrical activity.
The Stent Revolution
The 1990s also saw the launch of the company’s biggest breakthrough yet – coronary stents. These very small, mesh-metal tubes – recently named one of the “Top 30 Innovations of the Last 30 Year” by PBS’s Nightly Business Report and the Wharton Business School – are used to prop open clogged arteries in the heart once they have been cleared of plaque.
In 1994, the PALMAZ-SCHATZ® Balloon-Expandable Stent – the first bare-metal stent in the U.S. – was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for coronary artery applications.
In 2003, the FDA approved the CYPHER® Sirolimus-eluting Coronary Stent, the first combination drug-device product intended to help reduce restenosis, or “reclogging,” of a treated coronary artery. The American Heart Association named the CYPHER® Stent one of the top 10 medical advancements of that year.
A variety of clinical studies have demonstrated the clinical benefits and safety profile of the CYPHER® Stent. For example, SIRIUS, the largest, most comprehensive study ever conducted to evaluate the performance of a new stent, showed that patients treated with the CYPHER® Stent fared significantly better than patients treated with a bare-metal stent. These benefits have been shown to be sustained out to six years.
By early 2006, two million patients worldwide had received the CYPHER® Stent and, in 2008, the three-million-patient mark was reached, a milestone unmatched by any other drug-eluting stent at that time.
The company signaled its commitment to continue stent innovation with the 2007 acquisition of Conor Medsystems, LLC, a developer of a unique controlled vascular drug delivery technology, called Reservoir (RES) Technology. This technology can be found in the NEVO™ Sirolimus-eluting Coronary Stent, which is currently being studied in clinical trials around the world.
Beyond the Heart
Cardiovascular disease is more than just a disease of the heart. In fact, about 40% of those with cardiovascular disease suffer from peripheral vascular disease, which is a narrowing of the vessels that carry blood to the brain, legs, arms and kidneys. Cordis has been a pioneer in this field as well.
The company’s PALMAZ® Balloon-Expandable Stent, for example, was the first stent to receive FDA approval for use in patients with bile duct obstructions (1990), for iliac artery use (1991), and for renal artery use (2002). Cordis was also the first company to introduce in the U.S. a retrievable vena cava filter, which is used to prevent a blood clot from potentially travelling to the lungs.
Cordis also has been a pioneer in the field of carotid artery stenting (CAS), a procedure that places a stent in the carotid artery to increase blood flow in areas blocked by plaque.
Committed to Education
In 2006, the company established the CORDIS® CARDIAC & VASCULAR INSTITUTESM which provides physicians and other health care providers with educational, clinical, and product training resources designed to help advance the understanding and treatment of cardiac and vascular conditions to improve patient outcomes. CCVI conducts educational programs for thousands of health care practitioners annually through both live presentation and web-based education programs. CCVI operates the largest network of cardiovascular procedure simulators in the world for healthcare provider training with 150 systems in 10 different countries.
Cordis’s proud tradition of innovation continues to this day.
In 2008, for example, the CYPHER® SELECT™ Plus Sirolimus-eluting Coronary Stent received CE Mark approval in Europe for the treatment of heart attacks, while a major new study showed that Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) with the CYPHER® Stent is comparable to bypass surgery in key safety measures in certain patient sub-groups, a result that no other stent has demonstrated.
In February of this year, the FDA granted marketing approval to Biosense Webster’s NAVISTAR® THERMOCOOL® Catheter for the treatment of drug refractory recurrent symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, when used with compatible three-dimensional electroanatomic mapping systems. AFib, a highly prevalent heart rhythm disorder, is one of the most common causes of stroke. It is the first and only catheter approved in the U.S. for this indication.
From its modest beginnings, Cordis Corporation has become a worldwide leader in the development and manufacture of interventional vascular technology. The people of Cordis very much look forward to carrying on the company’s long-standing tradition of delivering innovative solutions that save lives and improve the quality of life of people suffering from cardiovascular disease.