Transenterix won’t compete head-on with Intuitive Surgical: CEO

By Ankur Banerjee

(Reuters) – Transenterix Inc’s chief executive played down on Tuesday the threat posed by his company’s surgical robotic system to market leader Intuitive Surgical Inc, saying he did not expect the two to compete head on.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared Transenterix’s Senhance System for use at the end of last week, triggering a surge in the company’s share price and a fall in Intuitive Surgical’s as investors worried about impending competition.

But Transenterix CEO Todd Pope said Senhance had a lot of ground to cover before it might have to compete directly with Intuitive’s Da Vinci device, which has dominated robotic surgery purchasing since it was approved in 2000.

“We feel like we have got a lot of open field running ahead of us,” said Pope. “We are not going to be competing head-on with Intuitive.”

Intuitive, which shipped 166 of its flagship da Vinci Surgical Systems in the second quarter, is scheduled to report third quarter results on Thursday.

Senhance on Friday was approved for use in colorectal and gynecological surgery, helped by features including eye-sensing camera control and haptic feedback which surgeons have long-sought from robots.

Pope said Transenterix would look to convert delicate laparoscopic surgery, which involves making tiny and precise incisions in the abdomen and in its current form is extremely wearing on surgeons, over to Senhance.

Analysts have said they don’t expect Transenterix pursuing the urological or prostate indications in which Intuitive Surgical specializes.

“I think in the U.S. there’s less than 100,000 prostates a year, our current indications give us 1.5 million procedures to go after (outside of that),” Pope said. “It’s really not a focus of ours.”

(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)