Johnson & Johnson to acquire Auris Health for $3.4B in the name of robotic health tech

Johnson & Johnson will acquire Auris Health, as it hopes to become a leader in the robotics healthcare industry by 2020. But, are robot surgeons actually more effective than humans?


February 14, 2019

Reuters reports that Johnson & Johnson announced plans to buy surgical robotics firm Auris Health for $3.4B in cash yesterday.

The deal will give the 130-year-old pharmaceutical giant access to the privately held Auris Health’s surgical robotic scope, which is used for respiratory procedures and the detection of lung cancer.

Everybody’s doing the robot

The healthcare robotics market is expected to reach nearly $12B by 2023, and the deal marks Johnson & Johnson’s maiden voyage into a field where it hopes to become a major player by 2020.

Founded by surgical robotics pioneer Frederic Moll, Auris was initially focused on lung cancer. But last year, US regulators approved its flagship device, Monarch.

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The tool was created for bronchoscopic procedures, where an instrument is inserted into the nose or mouth. Via a controller, surgeons direct a scope through a patient’s body with cameras.

Is it just another pharmaceutical cash grab?

You might assume a robot’s hand never shakes. But research shows that conventional surgery (at the hands of a human) has more favorable overall time and complication rates, while robotic surgery is significantly more expensive to those in need.

So it’s more expensive for patients and less effective — perfect. Nothing to see here, folks, things are feeling shady as usual in ol’ pharma town.

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