When it comes to the use of robots in spine surgery, Mazor Robotics (NASDAQ:MZOR) clearly has the early-mover advantage. The Israel-based company claims more than 170 surgical robot systems implemented across the world, and recently reported purchase orders for 22 new systems in the third quarter.
But Mazor Robotics now faces stiffer competition than ever before. No, robotic surgical systems giant Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) hasn’t yet entered the spine market. Instead, Mazor’s biggest threat could come from a smaller new rival — Globus Medical (NYSE:GMED).
New to the scene — sort of
Globus Medical received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Excelsius GPS robotic guidance and navigation system in August. That clearance came after the company experienced a minor setback due to the FDA asking more questions earlier in 2017.
The company originally planned to launch Excelsius GPS system even sooner. In 2014, Globus Medical acquired Excelsius Surgical, the original developer of the Excelsius GPS system. At that time, Globus stated that it expected to obtain FDA clearance in 2015 and launch the system commercially in 2016.
But while Globus Medical is new to the robotic surgery area, the company has been a key player in the spinal surgery market since 2003. Globus also has a sizable international presence, thanks in large part to its acquisition last year of Alphatec Holdings.
A viable threat?
Globus Medical won’t be the first competitive threat for Mazor. Zimmer Biomet (NYSE:ZBH) bought French surgical robot maker Medtech last year, picking up the ROSA surgical robot system. So far, though, Mazor hasn’t had much reason to worry about Zimmer Biomet’s system.
Does Globus Medical present a viable threat to Mazor? Probably so. Although the Excelsius GPS system is only now reaching the market, Globus CEO Dave Demski stated in his comments about the company’s third-quarter results that the company is “thrilled about the unprecedented level of interest we have received so far from surgeons and hospital systems.”
This optimism isn’t surprising, based on the buzz generated by the Excelsius GPS prototype demonstrated at last year’s North American Spine Society (NASS) meeting. Leerink analyst Richard Newitter wrote after the NASS meeting about surgeons’ high interest level in Globus Medical’s new surgical robot system.
By Keith Speights | The Motley Fool
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