1. Robotic surgery expandsPioneered by Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG) through the early 2000s, robot-assisted surgery became a hot medtech area in recent years, with a host of major medtech companies seeking to break into the space.
“The 2010s served as validation of the robotic surgery hypothesis: Providers, payers and patients will embrace an expensive platform technology that effectively gives the surgeon superpowers in the operating room. The stage is set for a battle over platforms among the big players and a myriad of procedure-specific systems from smaller innovators,” said Thielman at Product Creation Studio.
Medtronic in 2019 unveiled its much-awaited Hugo RAS system — which the medical device giant touted as more flexible and cost-effective than systems currently on the market.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) closed the year by announcing its purchase of the remaining stake in Verb Surgical, following what J&J described as a successful strategic collaboration with the Alphabet (NSDQ:GOOGL) life sciences unit Verily. J&J’s Ethicon subsidiary in February inked a $3.4 billion deal to pick up surgical robotics pioneer Dr. Fred Moll’s newest robotic surgical play, Auris Health, and its FDA-cleared Monarch platform.
Intuitive, meanwhile, continues to innovate when it comes to robot-assisted soft-tissue surgery. Its da Vinci SP robot for single-port surgery has a tube that is about an inch wide and delivers fully articulating instruments: three that can manipulate things and one that’s a steerable endoscope. The robot is in the process of launching in the United States.
Robots are also hot in the orthopedic surgery space. More than six years after spending $1.7 billion to acquire Mako Surgical, Stryker is leading the way. Big competitors including Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Synthes business, Zimmer Biomet and Smith & Nephew, which have either launched or are preparing to launch their own robots.
In December 2018, Medtronic closed on its $1.7 billion purchase of Mazor Robotics and its robot-assisted surgery platform for the spine. A month later, Medtronic launched its Mazor X Stealth robotic-assisted spinal surgical platform in the U.S.