While its competitors waged full-scale war on the PR front over the past month, St. Jude Medical (St. Paul, Minnesota) bided its time, awaiting the presentation of results from key clinical trials at the American College of Cardiology (Bethesda, Maryland) meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in early March.

The RHYTHM (Resynchronization HemodYnamic Treatment for Heart Failure Management) trial results, widely expected to be positive, were seen as boosting St. Jude's case for FDA approval of its Epic HF and Atlas HF CRT (cardiac resychnronization therapy) implantable cardioverter defibrillators and entr e into the CRT market.

Those approvals are anticipated by St. Jude by the time of the North American Society for Pacing and Electrophysiology/Heart Failure Society in San Francisco, California, in the latter part of May.

At its annual healthcare investors conference in early January, JPMorgan (New York) made St. Jude its "top pick" in the medical technology sector for the second straight year, saying it expects the company's "highly competitive" CRT devices to capture significant market share from competitors Medtronic (Minneapolis, Minnesota) and Guidant (Indianapolis, Indiana), which to this point have the market to themselves.

Those devices will be highly competitive indeed, President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Starks said at the JPMorgan conference. Relative to the products marketed by Medtronic and Guidant, "our devices are smaller, have higher output and have full pacing capability."