Johnson & Johnson says it continues to remain confident in its decision to acquire Guidant Corporation in the face of speculation that the latter company did not disclose flaws that caused a number of its defibrillator implants to malfunction.

Guidant says that it notified doctors of the problem in a latter dated May 23, but the company did not recommend replacing the products. Although the device in question, known as Ventak Prizm 2 DR implantable cardioverter defibrillator, has been associated with 26 failures and one recent death, Guidant asserts that its overall reliability “remains high.” The firm says it has worked with the US Food and Drug Administration on the matter and will continue to work with the agency.

The issue came to a head earlier this week when the New York Times reported that a 21 year old had died of a sudden heart attack whilst using a Guidant defibrillator. According to a Reuters report, Guidant had failed to highlight the problem to doctors for three years and only sent the letter after it became apparent that the New York Times was planning to publish the story.

This is the latest twist in J&J’s proposed $25.4 billion dollar acquisition of the US devices firm, which was first announced back in December last year [[16/12/04a]]. The firms still anticipate the deal will close during the third quarter of the year in spite of this latest development, and an earlier request for more information from the US Federal Trade Commission [[22/02/05d]].