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Despite delays, Medtronic remains bullish on its robot system, Hugo

Burl Gilyard, Star Tribune on

Published in Business News

Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha has a simple message for the skeptics: despite some bumps in the road, the robots are coming.

While Hugo might sound like a big, fluffy dog character in an animated movie, it's the name Medtronic has given its surgical robotic system.

"We expect Hugo to deliver double digit millions in sales this fiscal year, with a meaningful step-up next fiscal year," Martha said of the system earlier this week at the JPMorgan Health Care Conference.

Medtronic disappointed investors in November with news that its Hugo rollout was being delayed due to supply chain and manufacturing problems.

"Customer interest is extremely high," Martha said, regarding Hugo.

But it remains unclear when Hugo will be available for use in the U.S., and the company is not offering any forecasts at this point. The current sales are all coming from international markets.

 

"Our order book continues to fill, we're installing systems into new accounts, surgeons are using the system to perform complex surgeries," Martha said of Hugo, outside the U.S.

Hugo is already being used in Chile, Panama and India. In October, the company received regulatory approval in Europe, where systems are now being delivered. It was recently approved in Australia for urology procedures, and in Canada for both urology and gynecology.

Medtronic is preparing to soon start a clinical trial for urologic use domestically. Medtronic will need to secure separate FDA approvals for each robotic surgical application. "We expect to have the first surgery in our U.S. trial soon," Martha said.

The latest manufacturing delays boil down to a single component in short supply.

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