Expectations

Expectations

Last night saw the opening of yet another baseball season and have to admit there is something very special about Opening Day. This year here in the great city of Chicago expectations are running wild that after 100 plus years the Chicago Cubs will not just make it to the World Series but actually win the World Series. Now it’s hard to disagree with all the experts this year as the Cubs are coming off a good season and on paper look almost unbeatable. The biggest burden, other than injuries, might just be the weight of expectations. Listen this is franchise with an incredibly loyal fan base who are anxious for a Championship.

We thought of the Cubs when read all the fanfare over the latest company chasing the dream of building a true artificial pancreas. Yes, let’s week on April Fool’s Day no less, the diabetes world was abuzz over news from Beta Bionics and their iLet™ system. Now the iLet looks like a very interesting system and is a solid step towards a true artificial pancreas. The question remains however can any company involved with this quest be a commercial success.

As we have noted on many occasions the insulin pump market is highly competitive already and there is no question that a true artificial pancreas will carry a high cost threshold than a conventional insulin pump. This cost will be even greater when one considers the additional liability that comes with such a system. This does not mean that Beta Bionics cannot be successful rather they have additional obstacles to overcome.

It’s not that Diabetic Investor does not see the need for such a system as it has the potential to be truly game changing. The problem we have is from a business perspective as the last thing these patients would need is to see any company fail financially. This is not to say that patients could not revert back to a conventional system rather the hassle this would create. We have witnessed this in the past and fear given the additional complexities and hurdles that come with an artificial pancreas expectations need to be set at the proper level.

The harsh reality is this quest to successfully commercialize a true artificial pancreas has been a series of disappointments. For years we’ve hearing that a system is right around the corner and yet we are still waiting. Now we do not necessarily blame any of the companies or organizations for this irrational exuberance as many factors are well beyond their control. The most obvious being how the FDA will examine such a system.

Since this quest began we have maintained that the biggest issues weren’t technology related. Insulin pumps have improved greatly over the years as has glucose sensor accuracy. The two biggest issues have remained the same – can anyone get this device successfully through the FDA and once that happens can they successfully run an insulin pump company. Again as we have noted many times the hard part is not building the system, the hard part is running a viable insulin pump company. Demands which will be even greater with a real artificial pancreas.

So we will wish the folks at Beta Bionics well and will watch them closely as this could be game changing. Yet having been around this space for more years than we like to admit we will temper our enthusiasm and keep our expectations at the proper level.  Just as the Cubs look great on paper and the optimism surrounding the team is warranted, Cubs fans know from years of suffering that until the games are played nothing is guaranteed. The same goes for this quest for a true artificial pancreas.