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Byline: Andrew Morse
In late April, a 65-year-old New Yorker underwent an angioplasty, a surgical procedure that clears gunk from coronary arteries and buttresses the weakened blood vessels with tiny, wire mesh tubes called stents.
The surgery marked a first for Johnson & Johnson, the giant medical equipment maker, since the patient received J&J's much awaited drug-coated Cypher stent. The procedure was conducted only hours after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Cypher, ending the race to get drug-coated stents to market and marking the beginning of what promises to be one of the biggest medical technology gold mines in history.
The size of the potential lode is huge, possibly a $10 billion-a-year market, and at least until year's end New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J will hold a monopoly on the product. But racing to compete with J&J …