The only thing better than clinical trial data that shows a company's drug or device treats a disease well is data that proves said drug does it better than the competitors. That's what Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT) proved yesterday as it presented more data from its ongoing Spirit III trial.

The trial is following more than 1,000 patients who received either Abbott's Xience V or Boston Scientific's (NYSE: BSX) Taxus drug-eluting stent. Previous data from the first year of the study showed that Xience V was at least as good as Taxus.

Now, with two years' worth of data, it's clear that the frequency of major adverse cardiac events -- heart attacks and other things you'd rather not have happen to you -- is lower in patients who received the Xience V stent than in those who received the Taxus stent. There's even an indication that blood clot formation was lower when using Abbott's stent.

The longer-tem data probably won't change whether the Xience V stent gets approved -- the FDA seemed pretty happy with the data that Abbott has already presented. But the new data will be helpful for the marketing team once the Xience V is approved, which is expected to happen later this quarter. Doctors have been worried about the long-term safety of drug-eluting stents for a while, and this new data should help convince them that Abbott's second-generation stent is better than the stents that Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) have been selling for years. Without a head-to-head trial it may be difficult for the sales reps to convince doctors that the Xience is better than Medtronic's (NYSE: MDT) recently approved Endeavor, however.

But all is not lost for Boston Scientific. Under the deal that split up Guidant between Boston Scientific and Abbott, Boston Scientific gets to sell the Xience V stent under the brand name Promus. While it'll probably earn less selling Promus than it would selling Taxus, at least the company can benefit a little from the newcomer kicking its butt.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Johnson & Johnson is a selection of the Income Investor newsletter. The Fool has a disclosure policy.