Abbott Takes on Pain with St. Jude Acquistion

Abbott Takes on Pain with St. Jude Acquistion

Abbott’s acquisition of St. Paul, MN-based device company St. Jude Medical will impact a number of medical device markets, and place the pharmaceutical and testing giant into a leading position in the medical device industry, according to Kalorama Information.  The healthcare market research firm finds that the purchase puts Abbott into the electrostimulation market, particularly in neurostimulation, a fast-growing market that St. Jude is one of the three top companies in.   These devices offer an alternative to medication therapy.  Kalorama focuses on device and testing markets and covered neurostimulation device markets in its report The World Market for Neurostimulation Devices.  

Non-medical pain relief is a focus point of healthcare providers with attention on the dangers of pain medication and the need to find alternatives to reduce chronic pain.  Abbott builds on its cardiovascular device properties with this deal, and that is a big focus of press coverage.  St. Jude’s impressive spinal cord offering  should not be obscured in this transaction.

Numerous treatment techniques and devices apply therapeutic energy to selected areas of the body. Most act on nerves and muscles, and many use electrical stimulation. Such electrical techniques are variously referred to as neurostimulation, or neuromodulation—these two words refer to essentially the same group of techniques.   Kalorama estimates a 5.3 billion dollar market in neurostimulation technologies.  Neurostimulation is often associated with use in pain relief or therapy. It is naturally segmented into two classifications: those that use external electrodes and those that use internal (implanted) electrodes. The two common external electrode methods are electromuscular stimulation (EMS) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which both use similar equipment and external electrodes. 

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) systems are implantable devices that are used to treat a variety of conditions, including pain and spasticity. The use of spinal cord stimulators is growing through advances in technology increasing effectiveness and improved education of physicians and patients.  Because SCS is a therapy to manage chronic pain SCS patients may be able to decrease or even discontinue pain medication using the system.  The components of the SCS system are implanted during a surgical procedure, which is often a brief and minimally invasive procedure using local anesthesia. The stimulation leads are positioned in the epidural space above the spinal cord; the IPG or receiver is placed just under the skin in a practical location; and the leads are connected to the IPG or receiver. The electrodes on the leads stimulate the specific nerves that communicate between the spinal cord and the painful areas. The stimulation of these targeted nerves alters the brain’s perception of the pain signals.

St. Jude's marketed neurostimulation therapies include spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for chronic pain therapy, and deep brain stimulation (DBS) for symptoms of Parkinson's disease. It also offers peripheral nerve stimulation systems for the treatment of chronic migraines. The main SCS product lines include the Eon Implantable Pulse Generator (IPG) and Genesis Primary Cell IPG systems. The company's SCS systems include a remote control so patient's can control their pain therapy levels and location.

Kalorama Information is an independent medical device industry analysis firm based in New York as well as Rockville, MD.  Kalorama Information’s report contains more detail on these markets including segments such as TENS and deep brain stimulation.