At a time when U.S. health care costs have been rising faster than inflation, the prices for many medical devices have been dropping.
Included in the price declines are devices that helped build companies that employ tens of thousands of Minnesota workers.
Key changes are driving the trend. The hospitals that buy most of the implantable medical devices in America have grown wary of incremental improvements long used by device makers to prop up prices on pacemakers, defibrillators and the like.
And in a reverse of another long-standing practice, medical device makers are finding it much harder to rely on physician brand loyalty to drive purchasing decisions.
Major med-tech corporations have responded by buying emerging companies with hot products that can still command premium prices, like heart valves implanted via small tubes that can cost four times as much as traditional valves.