Update: Medtronic can sell heart valve pending patent appeal


In a 2-1 decision, a U.S. appeals court on Monday postponed an injunction that would have barred sales of Medtronic's CoreValve device, which would have thrust ill patients into limbo while a patent battle plays out.

Reuters explains the injunction would have stopped Medtronic from selling the heart valves in competition with a transcatheter heart valve product produced by rival Edwards Lifesciences. The two companies have faced off in a long-running patent dispute. A jury in 2010 found Medtronic's CoreValve infringed on a patent held by Edwards.

The Wall Street Journal reported the Fridley-based company had asked the appeals court for an emergency stay of the injunction, arguing the sales ban would result would place patients' lives at risk.

The Business Journal reports the injunction – set to take effect Tuesday – is delayed until an appeals court reviews whether it was issued appropriately. The court is expected to review the case this summer. The companies were also ordered by the trial judge to negotiate a way for Medtronic to supply CoreValve products to patients for whom the Edwards device isn't appropriate.

An earlier Wall Street Journal story said the dispute created "a scramble among doctors and hospitals" worried about patients set to receive the CoreValve implant, which is available in a wider range of sizes than the Edwards products. The story said doctors were scheduling surgeries in advance of the injunction, but shortages were occurring because so many hospitals were moving up their procedures.

"My father is going to die from red tape," a worried patient told the Journal. The article also quoted a Florida physician who said, "I had a patient who called me and I didn't pick up the phone because I didn't know what to tell them."

Both companies' implants use a less-invasive procedure that spares patients from undergoing traditional open-heart surgery for valve replacement.

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