Wednesday Breaking News: JnJ bought Auris

As it was rumored beforehand, J&J decided to extend its surgical robot portfolio beyond Verb Surgical (shared venture with Alphabet):
"Johnson & Johnson has agreed to buy surgical robotics company Auris Health Inc. for about $3.4 billion in cash, in a deal that would give the drug giant a lung-cancer diagnostic and treatment tool.
Under the terms of the deal, announced Wednesday, J&J could also make additional payments of up to $2.35 billion to Auris based on milestones, the people said. Auris, a closely held firm led by industry veteran Fred Moll, has developed robotic surgical scopes operated with a handheld device that are steered into patients’ lungs to identify cancerous tumors.
Auris will be part of J&J’s medical-devices division (Ethicon). The world’s largest maker of health-care products, J&J also has a robotic-surgery company called Verb Surgical Inc. that it formed with Verily Life Sciences, part of Google parent Alphabet Inc., in late 2015.
“What we’re trying to really garner is to convene this community of world class robotics expertise,” Ashley McEvoy, chairman of J&J’s medical-devices unit, said.
Moll will join J&J after the deal closes, which is expected by the end of the second quarter. He was the founder of Intuitive Surgical Inc., a pioneer in robotic laparoscopic surgery tools now valued at roughly $60 billion. Intuitive’s shares fell 2.1 percent to $528.34 at 9:32 a.m. in New York.

Dealmaking is heating up in the medical-technology industry as device makers hunt for innovative products to boost growth. In December, Medtronic Plc completed a $1.7 billion deal to acquire Mazor Robotics Ltd., an Israeli company whose robotics-assisted products aid in spine and brain surgeries. Auris’s most recent funding round valued the Redwood City, California-based company at about $2 billion.
Medical companies around the world are racing to develop technologies that make surgeries safer and less invasive. Auris and a subsidiary of J&J’s medical-devices business entered a partnership in May last year to develop integrated systems for robotic control, navigation and application of microwave ablation via bronchoscopes."
"J&J’s shares were up marginally at $134.24 in midday trade, while Intuitive Surgical fell as much as 2.5 percent to $526.36 as analysts said Auris could become a formidable competitor given J&J’s commercial scale.
Auris’s flagship product is a robot used by surgeons via a controller to direct a scope through a patient’s body with cameras.
The device, called Monarch, was approved by U.S. regulators last year for diagnostic and therapeutic bronchoscopic procedures, where an instrument is inserted into the nose or mouth.
Auris initially focused on lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death worldwide.
J&J said the acquisition would complement its purchase last year of Orthotaxy, a privately held developer of software-enabled robotic technology for surgery."


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