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Left to their own devices

Scandals, recalls, stingy customers, anxious regulators--any one of these would traumatise a chief executive. America's industry for medical devices is suffering from all of them. Omar Ishrak, the new boss of Medtronic, the world's biggest medical-technology company, recently described the problem succinctly to analysts: "There is a lot of work ahead of us." This is a relatively new ailment for the industry. From 1998 to 2005 the use of equipment such as defibrillators and drug-eluting stents expanded rapidly. "It was the age of implantation in this country," explains David Lewis of Morgan Stanley, with companies "sticking things into everybody." Much has changed.

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