How Varian Shocked Analysts with New Cancer Technology

Posted in Medical Device Business by amanda.pedersen on May 8, 2017

Varian Medical Systems surprised analysts and wowed a large crowd Saturday at the ESTRO conference with the launch of Halcyon, an entirely new device for cancer treatment.

Amanda Pedersen

Varian Medical Systems said its new Halcyon System is designed to simplify and enhance virtually every aspect of image-guided volumetric intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT).


Analysts had expected Varian Medical Systems to unveil a new cancer treatment system at the European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology conference, but they were expecting it to be a lower-priced, less-capable machine targeting emerging markets. But the company did the opposite. 

Rather than being a cheaper system, Varian's new Halcyon is a faster, more efficient system being offered at a normal price, according to Sean Lavin, a BTIG analyst who was among those who were surprised by the company's new cancer treatment device.

The Halcyon is designed to simplify and enhance virtually every aspect of image-guided volumetric intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), Varian said.

Systems will run between $2 million and $4 million, Lavin said, with lower prices targeting emerging markets and higher prices having more imaging options, and more algorithms and software integration.

“Halcyon is an entirely new platform that will offer treatments up to four times faster, be more comfortable for the patient, allow for much easier and efficient treatment planning (important in some markets) while maintaining price, and potentially increasing GMs,” Lavin said.

The analyst seemed particularly impressed with the pricing of the new system. “We see this as benefiting sales worldwide, and far more beneficial to the [profit and loss] than an emerging market, cheaper system,” he said.

Investors welcomed the Halcyon news Monday during trading. The stock (NYSE: VAR) bumped up $3.42 (3.71%) to close at $95.55.

Varian is expected to further highlight the new system this week at its analyst day in New York.

“The global cancer challenge is enormous,” said Kolleen Kennedy, president of Varian's Oncology Systems business. “It is expected that there will be 24.6 million cancer cases diagnosed annually by 2030, and there is an acute shortage of equipment and trained clinicians. With the innovations in this new technology platform, the system will deliver high quality Halcyon treatments that empower clinicians to care for many more patients.”

Varian said the driving focus of the human-centered, user-friendly design of Halcyon was to automate, streamline, and simplify virtually every aspect of treatment. The result is an advanced system that is more comfortable for the patient while delivering ease of use for healthcare providers, accelerated installation timeframes, expedited commissioning, simplified training, and automated treatment. With its streamlined workflow, Halcyon only requires nine steps from the start to the end of treatment compared to up to more than 30 steps with older technologies nearing end of life, the company noted.

According to Varian, Halcyon is well suited to handle the majority of cancer patients, offering advanced treatments for prostate, breast, head and neck, and many other forms of cancer.

Featuring a 100cm gantry opening, which is larger than those on standard CT machines, Halcyon is capable of rotations up to four-times faster than c-arm gantries for rapid imaging and treatment, the company said. The system is also capable of fast and sharp volumetric imaging in as little as 15 seconds. A complex image-guided IMRT plan with Halcyon is clinically accelerated compared to those delivered on traditional devices, according to Varian.

James Metz, chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman Cancer Center, said the Halcyon is not just an iterative improvement, and that he expects the system will become the new standard for linear accelerators in the future.

"The product simplifies treatment delivery while maintaining high quality plans delivered at significantly increased speed," Metz said. 

Amanda Pedersen is Qmed's news editor. Contact her at


[Image credit: Varian Medical Systems]