Although it is not first to market in the coated stent arena, Johnson & Johnson set a high mark for others to match with the announcement that its Cypher sirolimus-eluting coronary stent reduced the incidence of restenosis to zero in its RAVEL trial. But competitors say they are not discouraged, because the data validate the concept of drug-eluting stents and because the results are relatively short-term, leaving the long-term benefits still undetermined.

Stenting of vessels is done to prevent reocclusion after angioplasty. But the process is imperfect, and about 25% of stented patients develop restenosis. To improve outcomes, several companies are developing coated stents that secrete a drug designed to reduce inflammation and neointimal hyperplasia, the excessive growth of the connective tissue layer of a blood vessel, in the post-angioplasty period.