Pumping up Defibrilator Sales

Medtronic to advertise medical device to consumers

In the last decade, pharmaceutical companies have shown that sometimes all a drug needs to succeed on the open market is an alarming diagnosis and enough advertising dollars to create a firm association between malady and remedy in the minds of consumers. Now it appears Medtronic is poised to see if the formula transfers to the astoundingly lucrative medical device industry. The Twin Cities-based company plans to spend $100 million educating consumers about sudden cardiac arrest and the role implantable defibrillators can play in preventing it.

Sales of implantable defibrillators and pacemakers plummetted last year in the wake of a series of recalls and safety warnings concerning defibrillators sold by Guidant, but Medtronic has problems of its own: Last fall plaintiffs got the go-ahead to pursue some 270 personal injury lawsuits alleging that a defect sometimes caused batteries in the devices to lose power in just days.

The ad campaign is being billed as a pubic awareness campaign aimed at people who may need to talk to their doctors about sudden cardiac arrest, but a look at the commercial posted at a Medtronic site looks more like a good old fashioned ad.