US medical device maker Boston Scientific has posted a 7% drop in its first quarter net income, on the back of declining sales of its drug-eluting stent Taxus which actually did a little better than analyst projections.

Boston Scientific reported net income of $332 million on sales up fractionally to $1.62 billion, narrowly beating a Thomson First Call analyst poll of $1.59 billion.

Taxus (paclitaxel) sales fell to $633 million from $686 million a year ago, but were up 4.4% compared to the fourth quarter of 2005 as a result of an increase in stent implantations which offset price declines. US sales of the device fell to $419 million from $494 million.

The stenting market has been affected of late by a reduction in the number of patients receiving the devices, mainly because a lot of the eligible patients have already had the procedure.

As a result, Boston Scientific has tried to reduce its reliance on this portion of its business though a $27 billion acquisition of Guidant, which while it makes stents books most of its revenues from implantable defibrillators and pacemakers. This transaction is due to complete in the coming days. As part of the deal, Guidant’s stent business will be sold off to Abbott Laboratories.

Taxus’ US market share now stands at around 53%, said the company, and is being maintained at that level after several quarters of encroachment by rival product Cypher (sirolimus) from Johnson & Johnson.

Boston Scientific said that its endosurgery division also helped offset the decline in Taxus sales, posting a 12% rise in the quarter to $324 million.

Jim Tobin, the company's president and chief executive, said: the "performance provides a solid foundation for our acquisition of Guidant, which we expect to close shortly."