Robotic surgery updates: Hansen reveals $15.3M accounting error; Titan prices equity offering

Sport workstation--Courtesy of Titan Medical

Robotic Surgery aspirants Titan Medical and Hansen Medical are moving in opposite directions, as the battle to become the chief competitor to market leader Intuitive Surgical ($ISRG) heats up.

Mountain View, CA's Hansen Medical announced a $15.3 million accounting error. The company had a loss of $48.9 million during Q2, not the previously stated $33.5 million. The news will complicate its search for an acquirer. The company announced it was exploring "strategic alternatives" in January.

Meanwhile, Toronto's Titan announced that it has priced its equity offering at CA$1.00 ($0.76) per unit. Each unit consists of one common share and one warrant, which gives investors the right to acquire an additional common share for CA$1.20 ($0.91) over a period of 5 years following the closing of the offering.

The company recently unveiled its single-arm Sport robotic surgery system to investors, with a goal of FDA clearance and a U.S. launch by mid-2017. In December it announced it is licensing know-how and technology from the Mayo Clinic related to use of the device in colorectal surgery.

Others are in the race to develop the second successful robotic surgery device, following the success of Intuitive's da Vinci robot. The company received its first clearance back in 2001, the FDA's database shows, but is only now starting to face significant competition, due to initial doubts that paradigm-shifting, minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery (in which a surgical arm controlled by a surgeon replaces the hand) could replace laparoscopic surgery to a significant extent.

Verb Surgical, a joint venture of Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences), is among the most prominent robotic surgery players.

"First of all, we think of us not as a robotics company but as a surgical platform company," Verb Surgical CEO Scott Huennekens told MDDI. "If you think of open surgery as Surgery 1.0, minimally invasive surgery and laparoscopic surgery as Surgery 2.0, robotics surgery as 3.0, we really think that the next era is 4.0. We call it digital surgery and physicians call it digital surgery as well. Instead of having robotics that is used in just 5% of procedures and it's like a mainframe computer, we're thinking of robotics like it's a PC. It's always there, it's always on."

Medtronic promised to launch a robotic surgery system this year using Covidien devices. It's been secretive about its plans, but they appear less ambitious than those of Verb Surgical.

Finally, Transenterix is in the initial stages of the rollout of its CE-marked, four-armed Alf-X device, and recently announced it expects the FDA to rule on the 510(k) application of its single-port SurgiBot by mid-April.

Intuitive thinks it can maintain its edge because its long head start has given it well-developed sales and training infrastructure. With its platform already established, the company is focusing on adding accessories to the da Vinci, such as imaging systems and new surgical instruments.

- see the release from Titan Medical
- here's Hansen's SEC filing
- read more about Verb Surgical from MDDI

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