First and foremost a Happy Valentines Day to everyone especially to the Diabetic Investor wine consultant who unfortunately could not make here to Vienna. Now onto the business at hand a few quick observations;
1. As has become our standard operating procedure at events such as these we’ll write when we have time but given the time difference between Vienna and the US that might work out ok for all concerned.
2. Vienna is a very nice place but has anyone thought about having this event either during the summer or somewhere warm in Europe. It’s not all that exciting to leave Chicago where it’s been freezing and step off the plane to the exact same weather.
3. We attended the Abbott (NYSE: ABT) FreeStyle Libre symposia were every speaker noted that patients using the Libre should scan frequently, that the more they scan the better their results.
Now call us crazy and many have but wouldn’t it make sense to eliminate the need for scanning all together and just have readings sent to a smartphone. Would it not also make sense since the reason these speakers want patients to scan frequently is to detect hypoglycemia to just add alerts. Oh wait, there is a such a system that does that already and it’s made by Dexcom (NASDAQ: DXCM).
Listen we have nothing against the Libre and understand why patients use it and like it. But seriously transforming the Libre from a “flash” glucose monitor into a real continuous glucose monitor costs next to nothing so what’s the deal here. Especially when Abbott could allow patients to simply turn off these alerts if they didn’t want them. Does this just make too much sense or are we just sleep deprived from crossing the Atlantic.
Nothing we heard today has changed our belief that the Libre and Dexcom system will grow closer together in terms of which features they offer. That ultimately there will be two or three versions of these systems and sucecss will come down to what it always comes down to, a battle for formulary position. Which of course means it will come down to what else but money.
Abbott has already initiated a price war which will go all out nuclear when Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) decides to do what they did with insulin pumps and becomes very aggressive with payors as they know this is the only way they can gain any reasonable share in the stand alone CGM market.
It is somewhat astonishing how quickly the CGM market has commoditized but the fact is CGM while becoming the standard for glucose measurement is following the same path as BGM only faster.
4. Speaking of Medtronic we are also amazed at how many insulin pump companies continue to spend millions for the right to have their heads bashed in. Everyone seems to believe they have a better mouse trap when what they really need is a much cheaper mouse trap and even that might not do the trick.
5. If copying someone else’s idea is the sincerest form of flattery Insulet (NASDAQ: PODD) must be feeling the love as there are a host of OmniPod wannabes here. Now never mind that it took Insulet 11 years to reach the 100,000 patient threshold and they are just beginning to look like they can make money. No all the OmniPod wannabes are just like all the conventional insulin pump wannabes as they too believe they have a better mouse trap.
6. This brings to our friends at Tandem (NASDAQ: TNDM) who pulled a rabbit out of the hat and duped investors into buying more shares. No one here in Vienna can believe the company pulled it off and no one believes even with this additional money the company will last. But as one ex-insulin pump executive keeps saying when it comes to Tandem, cats are only supposed to have 9 lives but Tandem seems to be the exception and is now on life number 10 and counting.
Well that’s all for now hope everyone has a great Valentines Day.