Did Johnson & Johnson Just Spit in Alphabet’s Face?

J&J’s latest acquisition might appear to threaten its partnership with Alphabet to develop robotic surgical systems. But another player could be affected even more.

If you had any doubts as to whether or not Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is serious about robotic surgery, you now have your answer. The healthcare giant announced on Wednesday that it plans to acquire privately held robotic surgery company Auris Health for $3.4 billion.

There’s one interesting wrinkle to this story, though. Johnson & Johnson already partners with Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) subsidiary Verily on developing robotic surgery technology through a joint venture, Verb Surgical. Does the Auris acquisition amount to J&J spitting in Alphabet’s face?

J&J’s latest deal

Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon medical-device subsidiary began working with Auris Health back in May 2018. At the time, the two companies said that they planned to develop robotically assisted systems for removing potentially cancerous nodules from the lungs.

Auris had secured FDA approval for its first commercial product just a few months earlier, in March 2018. The company’s Monarch system is used to diagnose and treat small, hard-to-reach nodules in the lungs of patients with lung cancer.

The acquisition by J&J is obviously a big coup for Auris Health, which had raised at least $500 million previously in several rounds of private equity financing deals. Not only does Auris receive $3.4 billion in cash upfront, it’s eligible for another $2.35 billion in potential milestone payments.

However, the deal also boosts J&J’s presence in the fast-growing field of robotic surgery. Buying Auris Health gives Johnson & Johnson a ready-to-sell system for the lung cancer market, an area where J&J already has a big focus with its Lung Cancer Initiative. It also positions the company to expand into other areas of minimally invasive robotic surgery.

By Keith Speights | The Motley Fool

Image Credit: Getty Images


About Peter Coffaro 474 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 25 years of progressive management success within the medical device industry. Recognized by the World Journal of Orthopedics, Exponential Healthtech, and MedReps.com as one of the top medical sales influencers in the industry; he has 10 years of combined sales management experience and has held positions as a Director, General Manager, Distributor, and Vice President. Peter has worked for some of the top orthopedic companies in the world - Zimmer, DePuy, and Stryker. He is also the founder of OrthoFeed: a popular blog that covers digital orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson and has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing, and professional education. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry from Northern Illinois University.

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