The use of stents is ideal for all patients with coronary heart disease with the exception of patients with left main or three (or more) vessel disease. The vast majority of cardiovascular disease patients can benefit from the benefits of PCI, not the least of which include a shorter recovery period and less trauma to the patient.
The global market for coronary stents is estimated to be in excess of $7 billion and currently growing at 5%–6% per year. With the average age of citizens in developed countries increasing, there is an increased need to provide medical care to the average citizen. As such, an aging population translates into increasing numbers of people needing medical therapy and increasing numbers of people who need more aggressive medical therapy due to the aging process. As the population of developed countries ages, the number of percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs) required increases as well. Currently, the incidence of PCI procedures (sometimes referred to as percutaneous transluminal coronary intervention or PTCA) is increasing at a rate of 3%–5% worldwide. Today, the vast majority of PCIs involve the implantation of one or more coronary stents.
Until the advent of coronary stents, patients with cardiovascular blockages had little choice but to either keep a close eye on their disease (“watchful waiting” with or without accompanying pharmaceutical therapy) or undergo coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). When angioplasty was developed by Andreas Gruentzig in 1977, patients were presented with the option to undergo angioplasty in an effort to open blocked coronary arteries. While short-term benefits were usually seen with balloon angioplasty, longer-term outcomes showed many arteries re-closing and requiring repeated intervention; up to 50% of angioplasty patients were found to require further angioplasty within six months. In an effort to reduce the frequency of patients requiring reintervention, scientists and clinicians developed stents that could be left behind to hold the artery open once the PTCA balloon was withdrawn.
The global market for stents in the treatment of coronary artery disease is the subject of the May 2009 MedMarket Diligence report #C245, "Worldwide Market for Drug-Eluting, Bare and Other Coronary Stents, 2008-2017."
Drug-eluting stents were developed to release a drug (e.g., sirolimus or paclitaxel) intended to reduce the incidence of restenosis. From there, even more innovative products have been developed, such as bioactive stents or stents designed to attract a patient’s own endothelial cells to coat the stent (as in devices by OrbusNeich, Hexacath, and Miami Cardiovascular Innovations).
Other device developers have sought to create stents that will fully degrade and disappear over a period of weeks or months—of a score of companies in this area, Abbott Vascular, Biotronik and REVA Medical appear closest to market. Yet others seek to abandon the use of stents altogether, opting instead to pursue an angioplasty balloon that will leave the anti-inflammatory drugs behind without the accompanying stent, as with CE Mark approved devices by EuroCor (the DIOR catheter) and B. Braun Melsungen (the SeQuent Please catheter).
Because the ultimate therapy has not yet been found, many opportunities still exist for effective therapies to combat atherosclerosis. So far, coronary stents hold the most promise for effectively treating an aging population with an increasing incidence of coronary artery disease.