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Medtronic Issues Battery Depletion Advisory For Heart Devices

By Anjali Athavaley Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- A small percentage of Medtronic Inc.'s (MDT) heart devices may have problems where battery life depletes faster than expected, the company said in an online advisory earlier this week. Medtronic no longer sells the models in question. An estimated 39,000 EnTrust implantable defibrillators are implanted world-wide. Implantable defibrillators provide a shock to the heart when needed in patients with irregular heartbeat. The battery in the EnTrust devices is supposed to last at least three months after an elective replacement indicator comes on. Medtronic said that as of last month, there have been 60 confirmed events that involved a drop in battery voltage over a time period ranging from one week to six months. The company has identified the cause of the incidents to be a battery short that develops toward the end of the device's life. All reported events have occurred at least 30 months after implant. Medtronic shares were down 1% to $37.76 in recent trading. The stock is down 1.3% this year. No patient deaths or serious injuries have been reported. "Ongoing impact from the advisory appears limited," said Derrick Sung, an analyst at Bernstein, in a note Friday. He said the issue looks manageable. "Physicians need simply to replace the device as soon as the elective replacement indicator is reached." Medtronic isn't the only medical devices company that has dealt with battery problems in its heart rhythm devices. Competitor St. Jude Medical Inc. (STJ) faced similar concerns in a subset of its defibrillators late last year. The advisory comes as medical device makers face a challenging market for implantable defibrillators. Domestic sales have slumped on a Department of Justice investigation and a study published last year that indicated the devices were being used outside clinical guidelines. -By Anjali Athavaley, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-4912;

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