Is an acquisition in NuVasive's future? CEO Chris Barry on sale rumors, new spine robot

Spinal Tech

During the fourth quarter and 2018 full-year earnings call, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha, NuVasive CEO Chris Barry addressed indirect questions about whether Smith & Nephew would acquire the company, after Financial Times reported the two were in talks about a potential sale, as well as discussed NuVasive's embrace of robotic technology. 


BMO Capital Markets' Joanne Wuensch asked Mr. Barry during the Q&A about the rumors that NuVasive or the company's LessRay technology was up for sale. "How do we think about that? How do you comment on that as it sort of seems to be the elephant in the room right now?" she asked.

"Well, I think as you would suspect, we don't comment on rumor or speculation," Mr. Barry said. "I guess as a publicly traded company, all companies are somewhere up for sale, but to us we are focused on driving the business in 2019 and that's all really I'll say about that."

The call primarily focused on NuVasive's strategy for growth over the next year. The company plans to focus on lateral single position surgery; surgical intelligence; advanced material science; and complex spine, or deformity.

"The plan launches an investment that supports these core focus areas aligned with our philosophy of assembling technologies to drive safer and more reproducible spine surgery," said Mr. Barry.

NuVasive has been known for its lateral approach technology and surgical platform capabilities, but until Mr. Barry became CEO in late 2018 the company avoided the spinal robotics space. However, the company has turned a new leaf and expects to reveal a robotics platform later this year.

"I'm excited to announce we have started the development assessment on our fully integrated robotic offering," said Mr. Barry. "With this underway, I'm confirming our intent to debut the Pulse Robotics platform in September at NASS 2019. The robotic technology is a combination of both internal and external R&D developments and leveraged the input of early adopters and spine robotics."

The spinal robotics market already includes experienced players, such as Medtronic with the Mazor X StealthStation and Globus Medical with the ExcelsiusGPS. Mr. Barry said the Pulse platform will be differentiated because it can be applied to 100 percent of spinal surgeries, not just specific high-or low-acuity cases.

"Pulse is a foundational component of our end-to-end solution to not only enable predictable clinical and economic outcomes, but also pull through innovative procedural solutions to create market stickiness and increase the cost of disruption of switching to another provider," said Mr. Barry. "By integrating many disparate technologies in a single platform, we're executing on an application system environment that addresses current gaps in the market and is applicable in 100 percent of spine cases."

Beyond spinal technology, NuVasive will also add to its orthopedics portfolio in the coming year.

"We will introduce several exciting new initiatives with the largest product launch of the year being the Precice Bone Transport System," said Mr. Barry. "This is a first of its kind minimal invasive method to treat segmental bone defects up to 10 centimeters in the tibia and femur being an implantable intramedullary nail with a magnetically adjustable dual slot design to support the transport of bony tissue to facilitate healthy regeneration."

More articles on spine devices:
21 spine devices receive FDA 510(k) clearance in January
SeaSpine expands board of directors – 4 insights
Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak projects future spine business growth: 4 key quotes


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