Abbott has become a household name, thanks to the company's leading role as a provider of COVID-19 tests. That, however, is not the reason the MD+DI editorial team decided to nominate Abbott as a Medtech Company of the Year finalist, however.
Throughout this year, Abbott has demonstrated the power of having a strong and diversified product pipeline. Even when the company saw demand for COVID-19 tests decline in the first half of the year, Abbott proved that its underlying businesses remain strong. It's also important to note that Abbott will continue to benefit from an expanded diagnostics installed base regardless of COVID-19 testing demand.
One of the real high-points of the year for Abbott was FDA approval of the Amplatzer Amulet Left Atrial Appendage Occluder to treat U.S. patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib) who are at risk of ischemic stroke. The device now competes directly with Boston Scientific's Watchman device in the U.S. left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) market. These devices are designed to seal off the left atrial appendage, which is an area connected to the upper left chamber of the heart where blood clots tend to form in people suffering from AFib. Minimally invasive LAAC procedures aim to reduce the risk of stroke and eliminate the need for blood-thinning medication.
Another major win for Abbott this year was the announcement that CEO Robert Ford has been tapped to deliver the 2022 keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
“Technology improves lives, and now more than ever, we are witnessing technology’s incredible impact on healthcare, allowing us to take better control of our health," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO at the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes the increasingly-popular CES. "We’ve seen a rapid shift in healthcare innovation, with technology leading the charge to bring quality healthcare to all global citizens. We are thrilled to welcome Robert to the CES keynote stage to share more about Abbott’s vision for the future of healthcare.”
CES attendees can expect to hear Ford and Abbott and some of the company's top scientists and engineers talk about their vision for a future of digitization, decentralization, and democratization across the healthcare system.
Abbott's year was not all smooth-sailing, however. The company had to combat controversy after The New York Times reported that factory workers in Westbrook, ME factory were instructed to discard materials used for making its rapid COVID-19 test, the BinaxNOW. That's the same factory, by the way, where Abbott eliminated 310 jobs in July as demand for COVID-19 testing in the United States dropped off.
"We have not destroyed any finished BinaxNOW product, nor have we destroyed any usable test components needed by the market that could have been donated. In fact, because Abbott maintained usable test components, we're now able to scale up," Abbott said in a statement about the article.
The company went on to explain that the lots of card components shown in photos published by The New York Times were at seven-month shelf life and were disposed of in accordance with the company's standard inventory management process," Abbott said.
Abbott also had to recall some of its Alinity COVID-19 tests this year due to a software problem that caused some false-positive test results.