May 13, 2011

Somewhere in the Pump Market

Sometimes I wonder if folks remember the stuff they write. Wait I better be careful, that is a standard that I could be guilty of not living up to too. My Ramblings May Vary.

That said I was interested by articles at massdevice.com. This week there was some gloom and doom about Medtronic restructuring and their commitment to diabetes devices. It quotes David Kliff of diabetic Investor saying "Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see whether the company is serious about change, or will they once again become bogged down in the Medtronic corporate meat grinder," Kliff wrote. "The folks at Medtronic corporate in Minneapolis view the diabetes unit as a cash cow and see little reason to invest precious dollars upgrading the Paradigm line or getting things right with the patch pump.”

I tend to be skeptical of just about everything so it isn’t real hard to think, maybe there is something to this. On the other hand there hasn’t been anything exactly innovative in the pump market in the last few years in the US since Medtronic integrated CGM into the pump. Sure Animas hooked up a meter remote but that isn’t exactly earth shattering. Despite rumors of Accu-Chek / Solo and Medtronic working on patch pumps nobody else had a pod like product on the market. So it easy to think, “Hey these guys (and gals) are getting lazy.”

Maybe but maybe not.

Last April the same blog, massdevice.com wrote that, “The Food & Drug Administration launches an initiative to institute stricter pre-market requirements infusion pumps, issuing new guidance and advising manufacturers they'll likely be required to "conduct additional risk assessments to support clearance of new or modified pumps."”

In Europe Medtronic has a pump / CGM combination available that shuts of insulin in hypos. Animas is expected to have a pump / CGM combination product for sale in Europe with Dexcom shortly. Even massdevice.com reports that Insulet has the much talked about Pod 2.0 into the FDA. Solo is, well, somewhere. So is Cellnovo.

Somewhere could be a lot of places. It could be back burnered as Kliff seems to suggest. There is a song about somewhere being over the rainbow. Somewhere is also, and I hope this is the case, being in with the FDA. Funny thing when stuff is into the FDA folks follow the rules, at least to some extent, and shut up.

Shutting up isn’t so great for bloggers. Well OK, in all honesty, there are a lot of folks at J&J, Medtronic, Roche, WaveSense, Sanofi, JDRF and the like that would probably think it would be GREAT to see me shut up. What I mean to suggest is that when the industry shuts up, news letters and blogs don’t have as much fodder to write about (but we as in I, Kliff and Massdevice.com keep writing anyway.)

I will continue to advocate for innovation. I have and will carp on about the pace on innovation and less than ideal products. I would love to see Mac OS software, data standards, devices that work together, the death of proprietary cables, respect for customer loyalty and a lot of other stuff that doesn’t seem all that hard.

However when the noise about a innovative product stops, does that mean it is dead or into the FDA for review? Honestly we don’t know.

Massdevice.com also noted that reported that Medtronic “diabetes sales were up 8 percent to $979 million during the first nine months of its fiscal year.” Not bad in this economy. So I emailed Medtronic about the news. I know they can’t talk about stuff that is into the FDA but they sent an official reply about restructuring. Here is their reply, Your Diabetes News May Vary.

“Yes, as Medtronic previously announced, we are globally restructuring our business to align with our customer needs and the current business environment. We are continuing to invest where business is growing and see strong growth in the diabetes division. However, we are restructuring the diabetes business in order to increasing operating efficiencies, while creating the infrastructure to grow and serve more customers.
 
“For example, we decided that a single facility focused solely on customer experience excellence will best meet the needs of our customers, so that means moving some positions from Northridge, CA to our Customer Care Center in San Antonio, TX. 
 
“Our customers can rest assured that we're committed to continuing to advance technology and innovation, while leading the industry in education, service and support to improve the lives of people with diabetes around the world.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The cardiac division of Medtronic accounts for over 60 percent of their business, with the rest divided almost equally between diabetes orthopedic spinal devices, etc. (diabetes may have a bit more business than the spinal devices). It has never been the main part of their business. However, obviously there will be much growth in the diabetes division, particularly if they can tap into the Type 2 diabetes market. So I am not surprised that we don't get top priority when allocating monetary resources.