Medtronic aims to take on Intuitive next year

In the wake of J&J’s $3.4bn bet on robotic surgery with the acquisition of Auris Health, Medtronic today outlined its plans for its own robotic surgery programme. Speaking on its third quarter results analyst call, the group's chief executive, Omar Ishrak, said the as-yet unnamed robotic-assisted surgery platform was on track for a 2020 launch, with the company having already had “several pre-submission meetings with regulatory bodies around the world, including the US FDA”. The system is distinct from the products Medtronic obtained from the acquisition of Mazor Robotics in September. The in-house platform is somewhat more mysterious, though Medtronic has previously hinted that it would go up against the da Vinci range from Intuitive Surgical, which is by far the largest group in this segment. On the call today, though, management said Medtronic’s system would expand the market for minimally invasive surgery, perhaps suggesting that this might be easier than taking share from Intuitive. Medtronic’s third quarter worldwide revenue was $7.5bn, slightly ahead of consensus expectations, and its profit was $1.27bn. It raised its full-year earnings guidance to $5.14-5.16 per share, up from the prior forecast of $5.10-5.15 per share.

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