Bye, robot – J&J, Vicarious and Titan downsize

All of medtech is having to deal with tough economic times at the moment, but surgical robotics companies seem to be having a harder time than most. This week Johnson & Johnson disclosed the impending redundancies of hundreds of workers from various sites in California, including 292 from its Auris Health subsidiary, maker of the Monarch robotic endoscopy system, and 47 from Verb Surgical, source of the much-delayed Ottava complex surgery robot. In this J&J is following the lead set by Vicarious Surgical, which at its fourth-quarter earnings call admitted that it would reduce its workforce by 14% – around 23 employees. Vicarious came to market via a Spac deal, and few of the companies that followed this route have done well. Even Vicarious, though, is doing better than Titan Medical. Titan has been in trouble for years, and laid off 48 employees – nearly three quarters of its workforce – in early February; a few days later it canned four members of its senior leadership team. None of this was enough, however, and today the company was delisted from Nasdaq

Selected major surgical robots
Company Robot Status
Intuitive Surgical Da Vinci Xi FDA-approved Apr 2014
Da Vinci X FDA-cleared May 2017
Da Vinci SP FDA-cleared Apr 2014
Asensus Surgical (formerly Transenterix) Senhance  FDA-cleared Oct 2017
CMR Surgical Versius CE-marked Mar 2019; US approval poss 2023
Avatera Medical Avatera CE-marked Nov 2019
Medtronic Hugo CE-marked Oct 2021, US approval poss 2023
Johnson & Johnson Ottava Approval possible 2026 (delayed from 2024)
Vicarious Surgical Vicarious Surgical System In development
Titan Medical  Sport Approval repeatedly delayed
Source: Evaluate Medtech & company websites.

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