- Zimmer Biomet will distribute intraoral scanners marketed by Align Technology, which manufactures the clear dental aligner system Invisalign, the companies said Thursday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- The multinational agreement involves Align's iTero Element scanner line, which accounts for less than 20% of Align's business. Align's scanner and services sector sales amounted to $104 million in the second quarter, on par with the $107 million Zimmer's entire dental unit brought in, or about 5% of the medtech giant's overall business.
- Intraoral scanners are devices used to digitally capture dental impressions. The companies said the scanners are already available through Zimmer Biomet in Europe, with availability in the U.S., Canada and Japan commencing in October.
Zimmer Biomet executives touted "continued improvement" in the dental business on its most recent earnings call, with CEO Bryan Hanson telling investors the unit "has been gaining traction over the last few quarters." The business markets dental implants, as well as sutures and putty.
But on a year-over-year basis, dental sales declined from $428 million in 2016, to $419 million in 2017, to $411 million last year. A Wall Street Journal report from March 2018 said Zimmer Biomet was considering divesting the dental business altogether.
Zimmer Biomet's most recent annual report said it competes primarily with Danaher's Nobel Biocare, Dentsply Sirona and Swiss manufacturer Straumann in the dental implant market. It attributed the continued slide in sales in 2018 to "ongoing competitive challenges in the U.S. and EMEA and restructuring of our dental organization in certain European markets."
The agreement with Align "expands Zimmer Biomet's global footprint in the rapidly growing market for digital restorative dentistry solutions," the medtech said in its announcement.
For Align, the deal comes after recently public teledentistry company SmileDirectClub served as a bit of a boon and a bane. The two companies struck a deal in 2016 for Align to become SDC's exclusive third-party supplier of non-Invisalign clear aligners. But the business partners have since had disputes. An arbitration decision in March forced Align to close its piloted Invisalign stores due to non-compete provisions.
Align is optimistic about the potential of the Zimmer partnership for its scanner business.
"Through this partnership, the iTero scanner becomes the preferred intraoral scanner used in the U.S. and European Zimmer Biomet Institutes, which train thousands of dental professionals annually," said Yuval Shaked, senior vice president of iTero Scanner and Services.
Also this week, Danaher dental spinout Envista priced its initial public offering, which it said is expected to close Friday. Danaher's plans to have its dental businesses form a separate publicly traded company were first announced last July.