4 big devicemakers rival Intuitive Surgical in robotics — Medtronic, Stryker & more

Spinal Tech

Robotics pioneer Intuitive Surgical is facing increased market competition as Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic and others gain traction through major mergers and acquisitions, S&P Global reports.

The surgical robot market is expected to reach $275 billion by 2025, almost tripling in size from 2018, according to analytics firm GlobalData. Intuitive has maintained a tight hold on the market since its da Vinci system gained FDA approval for urology in 2000.

However, during an earnings call in October 2019, Intuitive CEO Gary Guthart acknowledged increasing competition from opportunistic market entrants. While Intuitive has grown organically, four competitors have gained market share by acquiring smaller companies with key offerings:

1. Johnson & Johnson. In 2018, Johnson & Johnson purchased Orthotaxy SAS and its orthopedic surgery system prototype. The company more recently became involved in Google's joint venture to develop a general surgery robot and acquired the project's remaining stake in late 2019. And in April 2019, Johnson & Johnson acquired surgical robot-maker Auris Health for $3.4 billion, gaining a platform that can compete with Intuitive's Ion system for lung biopsies.

2. Medtronic. In 2018, Medtronic entered the orthopedic robotic surgery space by acquiring Mazor Robotics. Expected to boost future revenues, the Mazor robot has driven growth in equipment sales and spine implants. Medtronic has placed more systems than its competitors in the past several quarters, according to President Geoffrey Martha.

3. Zimmer Biomet. Zimmer acquired MedTech SA and its Rosa robotic surgery system for orthopedic surgery in 2016. The number of Rosa systems installed in hospitals is expected to rise significantly in the next few years. SVB Leerink analyst Richard Newitter estimates 66 units will be installed for $56 million in 2020.

4. Stryker. Stryker acquired Mako and its robot in 2013, becoming a leader in robotic knee replacement alongside Smith & Nephew. Stryker sold 51 Mako robots globally in the third quarter of 2019. It also embarked on a strategy to improve the robot by buying Mobius Imaging and Cardan Robotics for $370 million.

Moving forward, Mr. Newitter expects more advances in robotic technology and uses rather than growth through M&A deals. Intuitive's CEO said the company and its competitors will need to deliver on promises to gain customer and shareholder support.

More articles on devices:
4 pillars of Stryker's growth strategy from CEO Kevin Lobo
17 spine devices receive FDA 510(k) clearance in December
Zimmer Biomet adds to leadership team with new combined role  

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