Johnson & Johnson sees promise in orthopedic robotics, cementless knee after challenging Q1

Written by Laura Dyrda | April 17, 2019 | Print  |

Despite reporting worldwide declining sales for the first quarter of 2019, Johnson & Johnson executives were optimistic about the future of orthopedics during the financial progress conference call, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha.


Orthopedic sales dropped 2.1 percent worldwide, with hip, knee and spine sales all dipping in the first quarter. Orthopedic trauma sales were up 2.5 percent, and during the call Executive Vice President and Worldwide Chairman of Medical Devices Ashley McEvoy said the company is making progress in robotics. In 2015, Johnson & Johnson partnered with Verily to form Verb Surgical, an independent solutions company focused on robotics among other pioneering surgical solutions.

"I was at Verb just last week, and I'm pleased with how they're knocking down risk every day," said Ms. McEvoy. "They have completed all preclinical procedural developments for several procedures. They've engaged with hundreds of surgeons. They're engaging right now with notified bodies on the regulatory pathways. So, I would say, stay tuned."

In February 2018, Johnson & Johnson acquired Orthotaxy, a privately-held software-enabled technologies developer that had a robotic-assisted solution for total and partial knee replacements. At the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting in March, the company revealed a surgical robot prototype that can be mounted on the operating table and assist with the surgical planning. The system was designed for standalone ASCs and is expected to be introduced for knee surgery in 2020; other applications in spine, hip and shoulder surgery could follow.

"If you were in Las Vegas [for the AAOS Annual Meeting], you saw a peak at our robotics offering. And that combination, we believe, is what will eventually get us to above-market performance," said Ms. McEvoy. "In the interim, we will be challenged until we get our cementless out there [and] we get our robot out there."

The company's knee sales were down 4.7 percent worldwide, although particular products did experience growth.

"What we're committing to do is really get the news out about Attune's knee performance. We've got 5-year data now in four registries," said Ms. McEvoy. " Our Attune Revision is performing quite well. It's up 10 percent, and we plan to launch our cementless offering later this year."

More articles on orthopedic devices:
NuVasive introduces new spine surgery technology & more: 5 device company notes
Stryker brings SpineMap Go software to market: 3 quick points
DePuy Synthes holds 19% of minor orthopedic device market

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