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Drug-oozing heart stents became the fastest-selling medical device in modern history -- and a cash cow for Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific Corp. -- because of the device's ability to prevent scar tissue from forming new blockages after artery-clearing surgery.
But safety questions about the stents have triggered steep sales declines and job cuts for the makers, and are expected to shrink the U.S. market by one-third this year -- a $1 billion drop just four years after the tiny gizmos were introduced.
J&J is cutting nearly 5,000 jobs due in part to a stent decline after studies questioned the devices' safety and effectiveness in preventing heart attacks and bypass surgery. Boston Scientific is preparing its own cuts after its stock hit a five-year low and its credit rating sank below junk-bond status.
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