Johnson & Johnson completes Auris Health deal

April 02, 2019
by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter
Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon has closed its deal to acquire Auris Health.

The acquisition, for nearly $3.4 billion in cash, could also include additional payments of up to $2.35 billion, if milestones are hit.

The buy, which was anticipated to close in Q2 2019, adds privately held Auris Health's robotic platform technology to J&J's push to fight lung cancer and its digital surgery portfolio.

“We are focused on building a connected, data-driven digital ecosystem that pairs our market-leading surgical solutions with advanced technologies to improve the patient experience,” Ashley McEvoy, executive vice president, worldwide chair, Medical Devices at Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement, adding that Auris “will help us amplify the power of digital surgery to address unmet clinical needs and lead a transformation in surgical care and lung cancer intervention.”

Auris' efforts are currently centering around the treatment of lung cancer. Its Monarch platform is FDA-cleared for diagnostic and therapeutic bronchoscopic procedures.

The aim of the acquisition to “to simplify surgery, drive efficiency, reduce complications and improve outcomes for patients, ultimately making surgery safer,” said McEvoy when the deal was announced in February, adding that, “we believe the combination of best-in-class robotics, advanced instrumentation and unparalleled end-to-end connectivity will make a meaningful difference in patient outcomes.”

Auris founder and CEO Dr. Frederic Moll, who will join Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement at that time that becoming a part of the larger company would “help push the boundaries of what is possible in medical robotics and improve the lives of patients across the globe.”

The hope is that the deal will “dramatically accelerate our collective product innovation to develop new interventional solutions that redefine optimal patient outcomes,” he added.

The move should also contribute to the ongoing disruption of the medical innovation arena. “With Auris Health’s current focus on lung cancer, the Monarch Platform robotic technology will play an important role within the Lung Cancer Initiative at Johnson & Johnson, enabling the development of a differentiated digital solution that addresses key steps in the lung cancer care journey, from diagnosis to early stage intervention, that are central to the company’s commitment to develop solutions that prevent, intercept and cure this deadly disease,” according to the company.

The Auris technology will also be a boost to other Johnson & Johnson areas of interest, including open, laparoscopic, robotic and endoluminal surgical approaches – and fits in with other recent deals, including its acquisition in 2018 of Orthotaxy, a software-enabled surgery technology developer.

That deal gave the company access to proprietary technology in development for total and partial knee replacement.

It also fits in with J&J's partnership to develop the Verb Surgical Platform.

“We are very committed to our partnership with Verily on the development of the Verb Surgical Platform. Collectively, these technologies, together with our market-leading medical implants and solutions, create the foundation of a comprehensive digital ecosystem to help support the surgeon and patient before, during and after surgery,” said McEvoy.