Supply chain crunch hits robotics

Johnson & Johnson blaming the delay to its Ottava surgical robot partly on supply chain issues might have looked like a smokescreen for development woes, had Intuitive Surgical not said as much about its own machines. J&J was always going to be a late entrant to the soft tissue robotics space, since its Ottava device was not expected to go into human trials until late next year. That date has now been pushed back to 2024, J&J said on its third quarter earnings call yesterday, owing to “technical development challenges” and supply chain disruptions caused by Covid-19. The management of Intuitive made similar remarks regarding Covid disruption on that company’s quarterly call, though Intuitive is more concerned with meeting orders than conducting trials. So far Intuitive has kept up with demand, but it warned that global shortages could cause problems in future, as well as possibly delaying development and regulatory activities. It also expects supply issues to cause higher production costs. Supply chain constraints will be a topic of interest when the most recent entrant into the complex robotic surgery arena, Medtronic, whose Hugo system was approved in Europe just over a week ago, reports next month.

Selected major surgical robots
Company Robot Status Source
Intuitive Surgical Da Vinci Xi FDA-approved Apr 2014 In-house R&D
Da Vinci X FDA-cleared May 2017
Da Vinci SP FDA-cleared Apr 2014
Asensus Surgical Senhance  FDA-cleared Oct 2017 $100m acq of surgical robotics division of Sofar in 2015
CMR Surgical Versius CE marked Mar 2019; FDA approval poss 2021 In-house R&D
Avatera Medical Avatera CE marked Nov 2019; no immediate plans for FDA approval In-house R&D
Medtronic Hugo CE marked Oct 2021; FDA approval poss 2022 In-house R&D
Johnson & Johnson Ottava CE mark or FDA approval poss 2026 Verb Surgical acq in 2019
Source: Evaluate Medtech, company websites.

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