Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), the first company to bring a drug-eluting stent to the U.S. market, seems like it might be getting a little desperate. First the company started advertising its stents on television, and now its touting data from a subgroup of potential patients.

Of course it's got a reason to be desperate: Its competition has tripled in the last few months as Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) and Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) have entered the U.S. market.

In the latest round of "my stent is better than your stent" -- some previous rounds can be found here and here -- Johnson & Johnson is touting data from an article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that shows its Cypher is better than Boston Scientific's (NYSE:BSX) Taxus for patients with diabetes.

The rate of reclogging 6 months after the stents were put in place was more than five times lower for Cypher than Taxus. Also, doctors were less likely to have to go back in and fix a problem in patients who received the Cypher. The trial wasn't big enough nor long enough to see a significant difference in one measure patients really care about -- heart attacks and deaths.

How does this play for investors? Well, this is part of the differentiation competitors must do to set their product apart from the others that do essentially the same job. While this particular effort is likely worthwhile -- there are probably plenty of diabetics who need arteries unclogged -- I draw the line at seeing reports that Stent Inc.'s (Ticker: CLOG) stents work better in blue-haired old ladies who wear red hats.

What we -- investors, patients, and doctors all -- really need is a four-way trial comparing all the stents available in the U.S. However, that's pretty unlikely. It would be fairly costly and I doubt any medical-device maker would be willing to undertake it. So instead, we all can expect plenty more results from head-to-head trials as the stent wars heat up.

Just call me when the red hat group is tested. I'm really interested in that one.

More Foolishness:

Johnson & Johnson is an Income Investor recommendation. To see how dividend-paying stocks can offer both secure income and the opportunity for growth, take a free look at this newsletter with a 30-day free trial.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.