St. Jude Medical Inc. (STJ) will stop selling another version of its defibrillator wires in an effort to head off potential problems like those the medical-device maker is currently battling with its Riata and Riata ST wires.
The Riata defibrillator wires, called leads, are no longer on the market but are still implanted in thousands of patients in the U.S. In a medical journal last month, prominent cardiologist Robert G. Hauser wrote that the cables are responsible for at least 20 deaths.
Wednesday, the company said it will cease selling its QuickSite and QuickFlex left-ventricular leads used to connect cardiac resynchronization therapy devices to the heart. Roughly 171,000 QuickSite and QuickFlex leads have been sold worldwide.
The decision comes as St. Jude has confirmed 39 cases of the metal wires wearing through their silicone covering, leading to an incidence rate of 2.3 in every 10,000 leads. Still, it stressed that its decision to stop selling the wires is a proactive one.
"It is important to note, however, that the overall safety and reliability of QuickSite and QuickFlex leads continues to be comparable to currently available CRT leads from other manufacturers," the company wrote.
The wire leads connect life-saving medical devices, which are placed under the skin in the shoulder area, to the heart and delivers a jolt that restores proper rhythm. Because of the constant pounding motion of the heart, the thin leads can be damaged.
Shares closed Tuesday at $43.80 and were inactive in premarket trading. The stock is up roughly 36% from lows hit late last year when the Food and Drug Administration termed the Riata defibrillator issues as a Class I recall, which applies to grave dangers like chance of death.
-By Mia Lamar, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3207; firstname.lastname@example.org