Is it not time to get off the treadmill?
Well another ADA comes to end and the thought occurs to Diabetic Investor that the time has come for the diabetes industry to get off the treadmill and begin a new path. Perhaps the best way to describe the latest installment of the ADA conference is to think of a hamster in a cage that is continually running in circles on the funny wheel. The hamster never gets anywhere yet never seems to tire of doing the same monotonous run over and over and over again. Unfortunately this is what the ADA conference has become and sadly Diabetic Investor sees no change in sight.
Once again there were the usual rumors over who was buying whom, and for the moment Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) is not buying Amylin (NASDAQ:AMLN), at least not yet. Although it does appear that Bayer has found a buyer for their diabetes device business. The winner or loser, depending on which view is held, is Panasonic who will pay $1 Billion Euros plus and become the latest example that when it comes to diabetes devices anything can, and usually does happen. No Diabetic Investor will not try and make sense of this deal nor can we answer why Panasonic is actually paying over a billion dollars to enter this market. As is said too often but is actually appropriate here there is no cure for stupid.
Diabetic Investor does however believe that these deals are just the beginning and more are on the way. The fact is the business of diabetes as it stands today requires scale and the while smaller companies can compete it is difficult to complete effectively. Amylin is a perfect example of this as think of what it would mean to have Bydureon in the hands of the Sanofi or Merck (NYSE:MRK) sales force. The same can said for the glucose monitoring market which will likely see further consolidation once the Bayer deal is officially announced. Lastly as with so many industries and diabetes is no different there is the follow the leader mentality or the greater fool theory; again depending on which view a person holds.
No matter what happens on the business side of things this conference once again demonstrated that there is a huge void of new and innovative therapies underdevelopment. Once again we had a series of studies that showed how one existing blockbuster produces slightly better outcomes than another existing blockbuster. We see data on drugs from a new category, a category which is already tainted and wonder while the data looks good is it really different. Even if different how can the FDA not take a very long and very hard look before giving their approval.
Worst of all we continue to be bombarded with data that shows the continual epidemic growth rate of diabetes and how in spite of all these studies and devices the majority of patients are not under proper control. What no one wants to talk about is the 800 pound pink elephant standing in the center of the room. No one wants to acknowledge that for all the money spent we are not a pretty lousy job of helping patients achieve better outcomes.
It has become apparent to Diabetic Investor that there are too few people and companies who get, who understand that patients could care less about these studies and want simpler, more patient friendly solutions that THEY understand. They could care less who owns Bydureon and more about why their insurance company does not cover this wonderful new drug. They could less about whiz bang glucose monitors that do everything expect the dishes (that’s coming next year) when they still don’t understand what these numbers mean or how to use them to improve THEIR lives. That they don’t want some complex algorithm or diabetes manual about how someone else thinks they should manage THEIR diabetes. What they want more than anything in the world is to live their lives with diabetes and NOT for their diabetes. They want to be like everyone else who does NOT have diabetes.
What’s needed more than is ever is solutions that work in the real world. Solutions that don’t require an advanced medical degree or PhD. Each year it seems as though companies are getting further and further away from simplicity and forgetting that the best technology in the world is worthless if it’s not used by the patient. The drug business is really no different; as too much money is being spent trying to prove which company has the better blockbuster when this money would be better spent developing new and better drugs.
The simple fact is diabetes has become such a big business worth billions of dollars that companies have lost sight of the disease and finding better solutions. They have become obsessed with market share or prescription numbers. In their relentless pursuit they are spending millions to look for even the slightest marketing edge. Millions which if spent developing newer and better options would result in the profits they so desperately want. Is it really necessary to conduct five or six studies comparing two already approved drugs just to see which one might be better? Could we not accomplish the same objective by doing just two or three?
Is it not time to get off this treadmill to nowhere?