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What Is And Isn’t News in Diabetes Drugs and Devices

Sep 9, 2017

Guest Writer

David Kliff from Diabetes Investor adds his thoughts about what is happening in the diabetes marketplace.

Tandem recently announced “U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and commercial launch of the t:slim X2™ Insulin Pump with Dexcom G5® Mobile continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) integration.” While this is good news, I don’t think it will do much to help the company’s future.

I find it interesting that the company also issued a press release touting the fact they got another patent. Now if this news came from a company that was new to the insulin pump world it might actually be news, but this isn’t news and also will not change anything for the company.

Novo Nordisk got some good news when the FDA allowed a label change for their once-daily GLP-1 Victoza. Per their press release:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new indication for Victoza® (liraglutide) to reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular (CV) events in adults with type 2 diabetes and established CV disease.”

While this is good news we doubt that it will have a material impact on sales. Lilly continues to gain share in the GLP-1 market with their once-weekly Trulicity, and payors have shown that price remains the main factor when establishing formulary position.

Another piece of “news” that has crossed my desk more than once is that there is now an app that measures glucose levels and guess what, it does so …. wait for it …. non-invasively. See this article if you want to know more, but allow me to save you some time. No, it doesn’t work and it’s highly unlikely it will ever work.

Yet it will get lots of free publicity and likely more money. But when it is all said and done, this will be just one more in a long list of companies that have tried and failed to develop a non-invasive glucose monitor. I will give this company credit for their creativity but that’s about it.

The fact is this con-game — otherwise known as the quest to develop a non-invasive glucose monitor — will continue no matter how much time and money is wasted.

Everyone thinks this Holy Grail of diabetes devices will be a major game changer, just as many think a real artificial pancreas will be. In both cases this is pure fantasy. The reality is the artificial pancreas at least will help some patients, while a non-invasive glucose monitor is just a waste of time and money.

It’s about time people begin to wake up and look at those pesky facts. First as Tandem illustrates conclusively when it comes to running a successful insulin pump company it takes talent, not cool technology.

Next, when it comes to the drug side of things, this is all about money and performance — even outstanding performance — means nothing. When a payor favors Invokana over Jardiance it sends a clear message: This is all about money.

Finally, it does not matter how many companies have failed or how much money has been wasted on the effort, the fact is everyone is enamored with a non-invasive glucose monitor, so this quest will continue. It does not matter that, even if by some miracle this happens, the toy won’t change a damn thing.

For the past 20-plus years, about the only constant in this wacky world of ours is that patients aren’t getting any better and millions of dollars are thrown at toys that won’t make a damn bit of difference. The reality remains that almost two-thirds of patients are not achieving good control and that fact unfortunately hasn’t changed in 20 years. Think about that.