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Medtronic Enrolls European Patients in Lung Cancer Trial

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Medtronic plc (MDT - Free Report) recently enrolled European patients for the first time in its Navigate clinical trial, which is aimed at evaluating the performance of its superDimension navigation system, in the diagnosis of lung cancer at an early stage. This study will enroll 2500 patients in up to 75 centers across the globe, with the primary data collection date expected to be over by July 2018.

We believe favorable results from the aforementioned clinical trial will accelerate Medtronic’s revenues from its Minimally Invasive Therapies Group (MITG), which has recently identified five key growth drivers, one of which is lung cancer.

Interestingly, as per World Health Organization report, lung cancer is currently the leading cause of cancer death globally, having claimed 1.59 million lives in 2012. However, due to the lack of sufficient symptoms in most cases, lung cancer often goes undetected in early stages; thereby reducing a patient’s chance of long-term survival.

On the contrary, if diagnosed early, approximately 85% of lung cancer patients stand a chance of being cured. In fact, early detection and subsequent treatment of lung cancer has the potential to increase the typical long-term survival rate from 15% at 5 yearsto 88% at 10 years. Electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy (ENB) is a minimally invasive procedure that allows physicians to reach difficult-to-access areas of a patient’s lungs. This facilitates early detection of lung cancer.

Medtronic’s superDimension navigation system, along with its unique LungGPS technology, enables a physician to perform ENB procedures that aids earlier customized diagnosis of lung diseases, unlike traditional invasive bronchoscopy procedures.

In an attempt to reduce global lung cancer mortality, Medtronic initiated its post-market observational study – the Navigation trial – in April 2015, to estimate the long-term efficacy of ENB procedures in early diagnosis of lung cancer and subsequent treatment, using its superDimension navigation system. The patients enrolled, after undergoing ENB procedures, will be followed up to two-years.

It is worth mentioning in this context that the ENB procedure has emerged as a common technology that is being administered to detect lung cancer worldwide. This is evident from the 100,000 ENB procedures that have been performed globally till date, at more than 600 hospitals commercially and as part of prior clinical trials.

Per management, the recent enrollment of European patients indicates a major step forward on Medtronic’s part to establish ENB procedures as the gold standard for detecting lung cancer in its earlier, more curable stages. In this process, the company also aims at establishing its superDimension navigation system as the unique technology for performing the ENB procedure.

Of late, increased competition has been observed in the global lung cancer therapeutic market, triggered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) Jan 2016 announcement, that it would cover screening for lung cancer with low dose computed tomography (LDCT). We believe subsequent progress in the Navigate trial will allow Medtronic to enjoy significant competitive leverage in this market space.

With the global lung cancer therapeutic market expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.8% during 2014-19, we expect Medtronic to capture a larger share of this huge market, given the company’s huge customer network, latest innovations, competitive leverage capacity and proven expertise in the MedTech industry, going ahead.

Medtronic currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the medical sector are Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. (HRC - Free Report) , OraSure Technologies, Inc. (OSUR - Free Report) and Orthofix International N.V. (OFIX - Free Report) . All the three stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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