Despite study, cost-effectiveness of new defibrillator questioned

So, the final results are in from a new study of implantable devices used to treat patients with mild heart failure--and they're positive. What makes things more interesting is that the four-year study was funded, to the tune of $38 million, by Boston Scientific Corp.

The study concludes that the devices, known as cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators, slow down heart deterioration. The results, which were published by the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that while 25.3 percent of patients with a standard defibrillator had been hospitalized, 17.2 percent of patients with a resynchronizing defibrillator had to undergo intensive treatment or died. The results were based on an average timespan of 2.4 years.

The new devices, which are $30,000 each, are far more expensive than plain vanilla defibrillators, and some critics suggest that they might not be cost-effective. For example, one cardiologist noted in a related editorial that it would take 12 implants to prevent one hospitalization for heart failure.

To learn more about the study and implant:
- read this Wall Street Journal article