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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Monday, February 12, 2007

Drug-coated stents no better than older models, studies show

By Stephen Heuser, Globe Staff

The most exhaustive studies yet published on drug-coated stents show that the widely used heart devices are no better at preventing heart attacks and death than the older, cheaper devices they replaced, and in some cases may be slightly worse.

A series of studies released today by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that drug-coated stents carried one clear benefit: patients who receive them are less likely to return to the hospital for a repeat heart-clearing procedure.

Viewed over the long term, however, the stents did not improve patients' survival rates.

Dr. William Maisel, a cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who chairs the FDA's panel on cardiovascular devices, said the new studies would likely push doctors to be more cautious about using drug-coated stents. "The decision to put in a drug-eluting stent is now a decision, where before it was used in almost any case," he said.

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