Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha on Tuesday became the latest medtech executive to downplay the effects of new weight loss drugs on the medical device sector, telling investors that demand for the medicines will not slow the company’s growth.
Weight loss drugs like Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Eli Lilly’s Zepbound have been a hot topic this earnings season. On earnings calls, analysts have peppered medtech executives with questions on how the so-called GLP-1 drugs will impact their businesses. Shares in many medtech firms have been under pressure this year as sales of Wegovy skyrocketed.
Martha attempted to allay investors’ concerns, saying Medtronic does not expect an impact on its growth in the near or long term. Regarding bariatric surgery, the CEO said that there is likely to be little impact as patients do not typically remain on the drugs for more than a year. The weight loss drugs may even lead to more people considering surgery, he added.
“We believe the current headwinds on U.S. bariatric procedures will stabilize over the next several quarters and return to growth by calendar year 2025, and this is modest and manageable within our broader diversified surgical business,” Martha told analysts on Tuesday’s earnings call.
Medtronic doesn’t expect a meaningful hit to its diabetes business, either, Martha said, as its customers are primarily people with Type 1 diabetes. Adoption of insulin pumps in the Type 2 diabetes market is so low that “even using aggressive GLP-1 modeling assumptions, we don't see any meaningful change in our diabetes growth outlook through 2030,” he said.
Laura Mauri, the company’s chief scientific, medical and regulatory officer, added that Novo Nordisk’s recent trial results of Wegovy, called the SELECT study, did not change Medtronic’s expectations. She claimed there would be a “negligible” impact on the growth of cardiovascular procedures.
Much like their medtech peers, Medtronic executives said the economic environment last quarter was fairly stable after years of disruption and uncertainty from COVID-19 surges.
“The markets are pretty stable, especially relative to what we've seen over the last couple of years, with procedures back to normal growth,” Martha said. “The staffing issues that were hurting the procedural growth are more or less under control.”
Medtronic continued to produce year-over-year growth in its 2024 fiscal year, reporting second-quarter sales growth of 5% to $7.98 billion. The company more than doubled its net income year over year last quarter to $911 million, after reporting a 15% year-over-year decrease in its fiscal first quarter.
Martha noted some improvement in transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, procedures, even though the company grew below the market at mid-single digits last quarter. While U.S. TAVR procedures declined slightly year over year, they grew 4% sequentially. Medtronic also said TAVR procedures had high-single-digit growth in Europe and solid growth in Japan.
Meanwhile, the company’s diabetes unit continues to rebound from safety issues over the past several years, which delayed key product releases. Martha said Medtronic expects to return to year-over-year U.S. sales growth in the back half of its fiscal year.
Medtronic raised its revenue growth forecast from 4.5% to 4.75%.