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International health care products major Covidien plc (COV - Analyst Report) announced results of the CLOTS 3 trial at the European Stroke Conference. The study has analyzed the efficacy of Covidien’s Kendall SCD system with Vascular Refill Detection Technology in treating immobile stroke patients with the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The University of Edinburgh conducted the trial independently and the results have been published in The Lancet journal.

DVT is a condition where blood clots developed in the leg move to the lungs, leading to stroke or death. Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) devices such as Covidien’s Kendall SCD system, applies pressure on the legs to improve blood flow in the body. This in turn reduces the occurrence of DVT, especially in acute immobile stroke patients.

The CLOTS 3 trial, the largest trial in the industry, had enrolled 2,876 patients across 105 hospitals in UK from 2008 to 2012. Results from the CLOTS 3 trial demonstrated that the Kendall SCD system with Vascular Refill Detection Technology, which provides sequential compression through thigh-length sleeves, helps to reduce the formation of proximal DVT by 29.9% in immobile stroke patients receiving IPC.

Additionally, in the first six months following hospital admission for stroke, the risk of death declined 14% for patients treated with the IPC group compared to the routine care group.

Market Opportunity

Approximately 400,000 patients in the U.S. suffer from stroke every year. Prof. Dennis from the University of Edinburgh believes that based on the results, 20,000 patients can be prevented from developing a DVT and 10,000 lives can be saved out of these 400,000 patients. He added that the national guidelines, which recommend that IPC should be chosen, only when blood-thinning medicines are not helpful, should be altered. The research proposes that all acute stroke patients with high risk of DVT should be treated with an IPC.

Our Take

The Kendall SCD system with Vascular Refill Detection Technology is a part of Covidien’s Vascular product line under the core Medical Devices segment. In the last reported quarter, Vascular product sales grew 4% to $404 million, backed by solid growth across neurovascular, peripheral vascular and chronic venous insufficiency offerings, partially offset by depressed compression products sale.

Encouraging results from the CLOTS 3 clinical trial should boost sale of compression products going forward. However, we are cognizant regarding stiff competition from peers such as Stryker (SYK - Analyst Report).

Moreover, the company has provided a dismal fiscal 2013 guidance, which complements its Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell). Further, uncertainty regarding the divestment of the Pharmaceutical unit at the end of the company’s third quarter of fiscal 2013, keeps us on the sidelines.

While we strongly recommend investors to avoid this stock, other medical stocks such as Haemonetics (HAE - Analyst Report) and Edward Lifesciences (EW - Analyst Report) warrant a look. HAE carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while the other two stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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