Does Asensus Surgical have a problem with Russia?

Asensus Surgical Senhance Surgical System [Photo courtesy of Asensus Surgical]

Add the Russian-Ukrainian war to the potential challenges facing Asensus Surgical (NYSE American: ASXC) as it seeks to innovate in the field of surgical robotics.

Asensus, based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, today announced the sale of one of its Senhance surgical systems, an important development given that its 2021 annual report lists a total of two Senhance system sales and a lease buyout.

The company, however, did not name the hospital or country where its distribution partner placed the system. It only stated that it was a hospital of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the international organization of countries that includes Russia and many other countries that made up the former Soviet Union.

Asensus Surgical spokespersons did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The company is expected to release its second quarter results on August 8.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and sparked a humanitarian crisis, medtech companies have faced a dilemma: the United States, its NATO allies, and other countries in the “free world want to isolate Russia, but what about medical devices and life-saving partnerships? who could produce innovations that could help everyone?

Many medical device companies donated humanitarian aid to help war victims, but only some have withdrawn their business from Russia.

The decision is arguably more difficult for smaller companies such as Asensus Surgical who are in competitive markets.

Asensus Surgical lists Russia as one of the countries where it does business. In November 2021 – before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine – Asensus announced that the RZD Medicine Railway Clinical Hospital in Rostov-on-Don (RZD Medicine) in Russia had purchased a Senhance surgical robotic system and launched a program with him.

In 2020, Asensus Surgical CEO Anthony Fernando described Russian regulatory approval of the Senhance system as a milestone for the company, then called TransEnterix.

“Russia has rapidly developed expertise and adopted minimally invasive surgery over the past 10 years, but robotic surgery remains extremely limited in the region due to high costs per procedure and the success of laparoscopic approaches,” he said. -he declares. “Senhance helps overcome these barriers to adoption.”

Asensus Surgical has sought to innovate in a surgical robotics space that has been dominated for years by Intuitive. Its Senhance system features unique instrumentation, advanced safety features such as haptic feedback, and is supported by artificial intelligence features. Throughout 2021, it has grown its active installed base and recorded the highest case volumes in the commercial history of the Senhance surgical robot.

“We are thrilled to partner with another institution to launch a Senhance program to deliver better patient outcomes,” Fernando said in today’s press release.

Christine E. Phillips