A Strong Union 1 Year Later

Abbott's union with St. Jude Medical is paying off already. A look at the first year together.

Strategy and Strength|Feb.21, 2018

A year after Abbott acquired St. Jude Medical, it's clear the pair are even better together.

In 2017, the company grew its leadership in cardiovascular, with No. 1 and No. 2 positions in nearly every segment of the more than $30 billion market, strengthening its portfolio in atrial fibrillation, heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac rhythm management, structural heart and vascular disease. Abbott, already a leader in healthcare technology, also drove 40 percent growth in its neuromodulation business, which addresses pain and movement disorders, and boosted the company to the No. 1 spot in spinal cord neurostimulation.

In those businesses, as well as in Abbott’s diagnostics, nutrition and medicines businesses, Abbott launched more than 20 products around the world in 2017, adding to its product portfolio of more than 1,500 diversified offerings. The changes made it one of the top medical device companies and put it at the forefront of neuromodulation advancements.

"Our devices business had a spectacular year, exceeding many expectations," said Robert Ford, Abbott's executive vice president, Medical Devices. "Just one year since the acquisition of St. Jude Medical, we have doubled the growth rate of that business. We did this by remaining steadfast in our commitment to deliver innovative, life-changing technologies."

Hitting Integration Goals

A combination of complementary products, leadership positions in Abbott's segments, cultural fit and a strong pipeline helped meet the company's integration goals. So did Abbott's integration expertise, led by a specialized internal transition organization that’s been in place since 2007, leading the company to success on dozens of transactions.

"We have a strong track record of successfully integrating businesses on a global scale and accelerating growth, and the integration of St. Jude Medical — the largest acquisition in Abbott's history — was no exception," Ford said. "We delivered on, and in many cases, exceeded, our integration goals.

"I attribute our success squarely on the employees – from both organizations – who shared the vision and passion for what we could be together," Ford added. "We knew from the start we had a strong cultural fit, but I never cease to be amazed by the collaborative spirit and relentless enthusiasm of our combined teams to deliver for our customers."

Value for Health Systems

Indeed, employees share the vision to go beyond products to help healthcare professionals manage the entire disease state, while helping to control costs.

For heart disease – the top reason for hospitalization for people older than 65, with the most cost to Medicare than any other diagnosis1 – the company has technology leadership in every category, offering a complementary portfolio of innovative products that are helping to set a new standard of care.

Abbott integrates technologies and operations to allow better patient management and to partner with customers more effectively and efficiently. The Merlin.net patient care network, for example, imports cardiac information from a patient's implanted device remotely to their clinicians, enabling them to more effectively monitor and manage the patient’s condition.  This not only improves care, but also can help reduce hospital readmission rates and the associated cost to hospital systems.

"Our new, stronger medical devices business is focused on helping our customers grow and on providing physicians and their patients with even more options, more life-changing technologies that will drive value, improve outcomes and empower people to live their healthiest and fullest lives," Ford said.


1Dunlay SM, Shah ND, Shi Q, et al. Lifetime costs of medical care after heart failure diagnosis. Circulation. 2011;4(1):68-75. http://www.heartfailure.com/hcp/heart-failure-cost.jsp