Riata: Medtronic Joins War Of Words

If it wasn’t a serious matter of life and death, it would be almost comical when viewed from afar. Only yesterday we reported that St. Jude Medical Inc. was demanding the retraction of a paper published in the Heart Rhythm journal by Cardiologist and (in the company’s eyes) antagonist Dr Robert Hauser. In the view of St Jude’s Chief Medical Officer the paper presented a factually inaccurate and biased interpretation of FDA’s MAUDE data, pertaining to comparative death rates recorded in patient fitted with either St Jude’s own Riata and Riata ST ICD leads or Medtronic’s Quattro Secure ICD leads. St Jude’s arguments can be found in yesterday’s piece here.

We predicted that either Dr Hauser or Heart Rhythm would be responding any time soon, but it seems we missed the obvious respondent, Medtronic, which has now leapt to the defence of the Hauser paper and its interpretation of the data.

Massachussetts medtech news organ MassDevice has topped and tailed the story very well with its coverage. Massdevice reports that Medtronic believes St. Jude is adopting the stance that Medtronic is running a whisper campaign against it (St. Jude Medical).

In other words, St Jude believes much of the adverse publicity pertaining to the Riata and Riata ST lead “externalisation” issue is being stirred up by Medtronic for competitive advantage. Medtronic certainly wouldn’t want that to be the perception so it needs to make us all aware of what it thinks is going on. It’s own interpretation of the Hauser paper helpfully supports the author’s findings, stoking the fire under St. Jude a bit more.

Medtronic spokesman Chris Garland told MassDevice.com in an email, “This is not a new accusation. From the very beginning of this Riata issue, St. Jude has been making claims that this is nothing more than a marketing campaign by Medtronic. Medtronic has reviewed the MAUDE filings, applying the search criteria that Dr. Hauser used in his paper. Our results are roughly in line with Dr. Hauser’s results.”

St. Jude had continued what MassDevice refers to as its “offensive” over the weekend. CEO Daniel Starks had reportedly accused Medtronic of smearing its name to gain an edge in what it calls the “slumping cardiac rhythm management arena”.

So is it all a marketing campaign? Well clearly underpinning the entire goings-on is a product problem that exists within a significant number of humans right now, which really ought to be the main consideration. Who wins commercially out of all this will sadly though be dependent upon who plays the PR game best. Neither company can sit quietly and watch events unfold, hence the rather unseemly war of words.

More to follow no doubt.

Source: medlatest staff, MassDevice