Medtronic CEO Provides Update on Robotic Surgery Program

Posted on February 20, 2019 by Medtech[y] Staff

Medtronic's robotic surgery platform has consistently been a hot topic on our forums, with insiders labeling the program as hugo and expecting the system to generate material revenue by fiscal year 2019. This was also confirmed in a reuters article in June of 2016.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Medtronic Plc, the world's largest standalone medical device maker, said on Monday it expects a robotic surgical system it is developing to make a meaningful contribution to company revenue beginning in fiscal 2019.

Medtronic will launch the surgical robot before the 2019 fiscal year, with the first systems to roll out in India, said Bryan Hanson, head of the minimally invasive therapies group.

The robot will generate "material revenue" in fiscal 2019, Hanson said in the company's investor day presentation.

Considering Medtronic recently announced their 2019 third quarter earnings, the likelihood of their robotic platform producing material revenue by the end of 2019 is very slim.

So where do they stand with their robotic program and when will it launch?

We were given a bit of insight during the most recent earnings call as Medtronic CEO, Omar Ishrak, touched on the program in his opening remarks:

We are also currently launching a next-generation Sonicision ultrasound dissection system. Regarding our robotic assisted surgery platform, we're hitting key milestones that are on track for an unexpected launch in FY 2020. We've had several resubmission meetings with regulatory bodies around the world including the U.S. FDA. More than 100 surgeons have used the system and provided us with very positive feedback.
We're also partnering with physician societies to develop guidelines for use of the platform. We believe this robotic assisted surgery platform combined with our industry-leading surgical instruments and surgeon training centers on the world will expand the market for minimally invasive surgery.

Additionally, during the Q&A, an analyst asked a question to the Medtronic executives on the call.

Matthew Taylor

Hi. Thanks for taking the question. So I appreciate you talked about a lot of big pipeline drivers coming up here in fiscal 2020. And I was curious if you could get any kind of update on your surgical robotics program? That's one where investors have a lot of focus and we're still waiting for some more details on what that looks like and when it might come into the fold. So can you give us the latest and greatest there? And just how you're feeling about that program?

Bob White from Medtronic

Thanks, Matt. And appreciate the question. So as Omar mentioned during his commentary, we had actually over 100 surgeons use our robotic systems and in fact, just a couple of weeks ago I had a chance to sit in when one of them during our preclinical labs as we did a partial nephrectomy. And as I chatted with the lead surgeons you could tell, it was really impressive experience both from the aspect of the way the system performed, the procedure, the workflow associated with the system.
And so, as we previously communicated we're absolutely on track for FY 2020 launch. But importantly, and I think interesting to you is once procedures have begun and we're collecting additional clinical data, they will arrange opportunities for you to experience one of these cases live. So we're excited with our progress. We're excited with the feedback we get and we're excited to bring the system.

Will the program get pushed out past 2020? Possibly.

Additionally, Medtronic has stated that they expect to launch outside the United States so that is a separate question that needs to be answered.