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Medtronic Introduces Robotics Challenger to Intuitive System

The global robotic surgery device market is expected to surpass more than $7 billion by 2028, and Medtronic (MDT) just made a move to gain a bigger share.

The company recently showcased its new soft-tissue surgery robot for use in a prostate surgery. The system is still being developed, but the Dublin-based medical device giant is confident it will be used eventually in a variety of laparoscopic (operations within the abdominal or pelvic cavities) and other surgeries where robots assist, according to a September article in FierceBiotech.

"Robotic surgical systems are designed to solve the limitations currently present in minimally invasive surgeries, as well as improve outcomes in open surgical procedures," Atif Nawaz, a medical device analyst at GlobalData, said in a press release. "These systems are used in a variety of surgical procedures, including cardiovascular, general surgery, orthopedic, neurosurgery, obstetrics, gynecology and urology."

Medtronic hopes its new system, named Hugo, will allow it to challenge Intuitive Surgical (ISRG), which holds the leading market position. Medtronic said its platform is more flexible and cost-effective than Intuitive's da Vinci SP.

In an article in MASSDEVICE, Medtronic EVP Bob White claimed that only 2% of surgeries around the world are done with the help of robots. The small percentage is due to issues of cost and utilization. This is going to change dramatically, according to CEO Omar Ishrak. He thinks that in the next 10 years, Medtronic's' robotics system and others "will change the face of surgery."


Medtronic plans to introduce Hugo outside the U.S. in 2020 and would like to have it on the market in the U.S. in about two years.

After the investor meeting, SVB Leerink analysts said Medtronic's entry into the market for soft tissue robot-assisted surgery is an outstanding growth opportunity for the company, adding that Intuitive will benefit from expansion of the business.

To bolster its position in surgical robotics, Medtronic acquired Mazor Robotics, a developer of spine surgery guidance systems, late last year. The addition enabled Medtronic to offer an integrated array of surgical systems.

Seeing robotic surgery as a nice addition to its Ethicon business, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) gained a toehold in the field earlier this year by acquiring Auris Health for $3.4 billion in cash.

Other robotics companies could potentially prosper from the explosive market growth. Investors might want to consider them for their stand-alone potential or as acquisition targets. They include:

  • Corindus Vascular Robotics (AMEX: CVRS)
  • Transenterix(AMEX: TXRC)
  • Globus Medical (GMED)
  • Accuray (ARAY)

Disclosure: The author holds a position in Johnson & Johnson

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This article first appeared on GuruFocus.