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New M&A Rejuvenates Robotics Sector in Medtech

Alphatec’s move to acquire a robotic navigation system is just one of several key developments igniting the space in 2023.

Omar Ford

April 24, 2023

3 Min Read
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Image Credit: Zhanna Hapanovich via iStock/Getty Images

Alphatec, a company focused on solutions for the spine, is making an acquisition that will bring even more excitement to the highly charged robotics segment of medtech. Last week, the Carlsbad, CA-based company announced it was acquiring the Robotic-Enabled Minimally Invasive (Remi) Robotic Navigation System for $55 million from Accelus.

REMI is an intra-operative platform developed by spine experts with deep navigation and robotics know-how that integrates navigation and robotics into spine procedures utilizing either a 3D imaging scan or 2D fluoroscopic images of the patient. REMI’s small, table-mounted navigation system guides instrumentation and implants to a precise destination during surgery. 

The incorporation of REMI into ATEC’s procedural strategy will improve surgical predictability, reduce radiation exposure and enhance intra-operative precision.

“Alphatec’s intention is to further clinical distinction by integrating actionable information into [its] procedural workflow,” said Pat Miles, chairman and CEO of Alphatec. “With our SafeOp and EOS systems, we have demonstrated prowess in identifying informational technologies and know-how that can integrate information into spine surgery’s procedural workflow. We are excited to add the Fusion Robotics platform’s navigation and robotic precision capabilities to ATEC’s intra-operative informational ecosystem and advance our commitment to control clinical variables in the operating room.”

David Saxon, a senior analyst with Needham & Company, noted the deal wasn’t out of the left field.

“The acquisition of a navigation system isn't surprising as management highlighted it as an attractive area earlier [last] week at Needham's Healthcare Conference,” Saxon wrote in a research note.

Saxon added, “While the REMI system is cleared, management does not expect it to begin to generate revenue until 2025.”

The news of the deal comes as Intuitive Surgical reported it saw a rise in procedures for its da vinci surgical robotics solution that are close to rivaling numbers put up pre-pandemic.

“Global procedure growth in Q1 of 26% came in well above our expectations, with notable strength in the U.S. where procedures also grew by 26%,” Jamie Samath, Intuitive CFO said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript from Intuitive Surgical’s most recent earnings call.

Samath added, “As a reminder, procedures in Q1 of last year reflected an adverse impact from COVID in the early part of the quarter in the U.S. and the latter part of the quarter in Korea and China. We believe that the return of patients to normalized healthcare routines, including diagnostics and improved staffing levels have positively impacted this quarter's procedures.

Average system utilization grew 13% year-over-year, significantly above long-term trends driven by notable strength in procedure volumes in January and February, and by an increasing mix of shorter-duration benign procedures in the U.S.

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The surgical robotics market isn’t immune to what’s happening in the economy. Last month Johnson & Johnson made additional layoffs – with some of the positions coming from its surgical robotics units.

It was revealed the New Brunswick, NJ-based company’s Auris Health Unit, a business it acquired in 2019 for $3.4 billion, was cutting 292 positions. It was also revealed Verb Surgical, another robotics unit under J&J’s umbrella, would lay off around 47 people.

And earlier this year, Vicarious Surgical, a company developing a surgical robotics system that combines human-like mechanical arms with virtual reality technology, cut about 14% of its staff.

About the Author(s)

Omar Ford

Omar Ford is MD+DI's Editor-in-Chief. You can reach him at [email protected].

 

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