PhotoJohnson & Johnson announced on Wednesday that it is acquiring surgical robotics company Auris Health for $3.4 billion in cash, with the potential for an additional $2.35 billion in payments if Auris hits certain predetermined milestones.

The pharmaceutical giant says the purchase is intended to accelerate its entry into robotics, “with potential for growth and expansion into other interventional applications.”

"In this new era of health care, we're aiming to simplify surgery, drive efficiency, reduce complications and improve outcomes for patients, ultimately making surgery safer," said Ashley McEvoy, company group chair of consumer medical devices, in a statement. "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."

Moving into robotics

Auris, which currently focuses on treating conditions such as lung cancer with its minimally invasive robotic camera, said it’s “thrilled to be joining Johnson & Johnson to help push the boundaries of what is possible in medical robotics and improve the lives of patients across the globe.”

Under the partnership, Johnson & Johnson said it will be furthering its goal of developing a "connected digital ecosystem" that uses data and robotic technology to guide surgeons through procedures and support patients before, during, and after surgery.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of 2019.

In recent years, Johnson & Johnson has taken several steps to bolster its presence in surgical robotics. Last February, the company acquired Orthotaxy -- a French company that is developing surgical robotic tools used primarily during knee surgeries. That acquisition came on the heels of a deal with Google parent Alphabet’s life sciences division Verily, which is exploring innovations in robot-assisted surgery.

"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," Ashley McEvoy, worldwide chairman of medical devices at Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement.

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