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J&J Delays Ottava Robotic-Assisted Surgical Solution

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The news comes on the heels of Medtronic winning a CE Mark for its Hugo solution.

It’s going to take a little bit longer for Johnson & Johnson’s, Ottava, a robotic-assisted surgical solution, to reach the market. The New Brunswick, NJ-based company said during a 3Q21 earnings call that it was delaying the platform by about two years.

The move comes on the heels of Medtronic winning CE mark for its Hugo Robotic-Assisted Surgery platform.

“We continue to be committed to the development of a general surgery offering with Ottava,” Joseph Wolk, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Johnson & Johnson, said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the earnings call. “We recorded a partial in-process R&D charge for $900 million in the third quarter. The accounting for this charge contemplates a first-in-human delay of approximately two years from our earlier projections of the second half of 2022, reflecting technical development challenges and COVID-19 related disruptions, including supply chain constraints being experienced broadly across all industries.

Wolk added, “Clearly, we realize the importance that a differentiated digital robotic platform can have for patient outcomes and the market. We continue to invest in and be committed to the platform and will provide updates to the external community as warranted.”

J&J has been transforming itself into a surgical robotics powerhouse for quite some time now. The firm, which had a history of divestitures in its medtech unit, acquired Auris Health for $3.4 billion. Through this acquisition, J &J was able to bring surgical robotics expert Frederich Moll, M.D. onboard.  Moll was CEO and Founder of Auris Health. His resume is extensive but one of his major accomplishments was that he co-founded Intuitive Surgical - one of the largest players in the surgical robotics market.

The company went on to buy out Verily’s remaining stake in the Verb surgical robotics joint venture.

This setback will give Medtronic a longer runway into the robotic-assisted surgical market. Hugo’s CE Mark is for urologic and gynecologic procedures, which make up about half of all robotic procedures performed today, Medtronic said.  The Dublin-based company said in release that the Hugo RAS system was designed to address the historic cost and utilization barriers that have stifled robotic surgery adoption for two decades.

It can be implied that Medtronic was referring to Intuitive Surgical, a company that has had da Vinci, its robotic-assisted surgical platform on the market since 2001. The Sunnyvale, CA-based company has been at the top of the market- relatively unchallenged in its position all this time.

Medtronic has not commented on when it expects a nod from FDA on Hugo.

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