Here we go again

Here we go again

This morning Bayer
announced they have received FDA clearance for their new Contour® USB glucose
monitor. According to the company the Contour USB is the “first and only blood
glucose monitor that plugs directly into a computer.” The new Contour can store
up to 2,000 test results.

Given the
host of features that Bayer has packed into this new monitor it’s clear the
company is targeting insulin using patients who tend to be more engaged with
their diabetes management. The question is will patients switch to the new
Contour or remain content with their existing monitor? The simple answer is
some will switch, most will not. As Diabetic Investor has said many times fancy
technology does little to change market share between monitor brands.

The bigger
picture here is that Bayer has awakened to the fact the glucose monitoring
market is becoming a battle for insulin using patients who regularly monitor
their glucose levels. The company has already done a fine job of capturing
non-insulin using patients however given their low testing frequency this market
offers little upside opportunity. The company also sees the handwriting on the
wall as it is only a matter of time before insurers change their reimbursement
rates for non-insulin patients. The bottom line, the BGM market besides
becoming a commodity market is fully transforming into a battle for the insulin
using patient.

In one
respect the company should be applauded for making it easier for patients to
manage their glucose readings. Still advanced features have never proven to be
effective at moving market share. If Bayer is really serious about taking on
Roche who continues to see their market share erode they will need a more aggressive
effort.  At one time it was rumored that
Bayer would acquire Abbott’s (NYSE:ABT) struggling diabetes device unit.
Although Abbott has struggled, their FreeStyle line of monitors is popular
among insulin using patients. A Bayer/Abbott combination would provide the new
company with the scale necessary to combat LifeScan, a unit of Johnson and
Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), who is laser focused on capturing the insulin using

What the new
Contour really proves is in the BGM market the more things change; the more
they stay the same.

Also coming
out today is news from a study done by the Sahlgrenska Academy at the
University of Gothenburg, Sweden. According to this study middle-aged women
with large abdominal fat cells have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes
later in life compared to women with smaller fat cells. Waist circumference
divided by body height can also be used to determine which women are at risk.

This study
joins a long list of studies that have focused on woman and diabetes and
reinforces Diabetic Investor’s belief there is a gender bias when it comes to
diabetes research. Diabetic Investor isn’t quite sure why this bias exists as
diabetes is problem for both men and woman.

This bias was
easier to understand when studies showed a correlation between a woman’s breast
size and diabetes. However, everyone knows there is a strong correlation
between obesity and diabetes and this correlation does not carry a gender bias.
For a university to waste time and money studying something most know to be
true is just another example of how out of touch some academics are with
reality. Perhaps it’s about time for academics to concentrate on some mundane
issues like finding a cure. This may not be as exciting as proving something we
already know but it sure would be more useful.