Is Tandem going to add Tyler?
Yesterday Tandem announced they had acquired the Sugarmate app which according to their press release;
“Our acquisition of Sugarmate represents an exciting addition to our digital offerings and supports Tandem’s strategic vision to expand our ecosystem of diabetes-related products and services,” said John Sheridan, Tandem Diabetes Care president and chief executive officer. “We look forward to further advancing our mobile health offerings and continuing to develop and introduce new app features that benefit the broader community of people with diabetes, including the nearly 30,000 current Sugarmate users on pumps and multiple daily injections.”
Now at first we’re like ok no big deal as Tandem is just joining everyone else with a way cool whiz bang app. Although financial terms were not disclosed Sugarmate likely didn’t command a huge investment so why not. As we keep noting with the Control IQ Tandem now has the coolest toy in the toy chest, their stock is doing pretty well and since everyone else has a way cool whiz bang app so like we said before why not.
Then we began to think that perhaps Tandem experienced a lightbulb moment and realized that it might just be a good idea to add a Tyler to their portfolio. Tandem might just be realizing that as great as the Control IQ is that not every insulin using patient wants to be on an insulin pump even one as good as the Control IQ. They may be seeing what we are seeing that Tyler will be a threat to growth and better to offer one of their own and play offense instead of defense.
As we have noted before a real Tyler given its low cost and what will be pump like outcomes could dampen demand for insulin pumps. It also can serve as a bridge between multiple daily injection (MDI) therapy and insulin pump adoption. Either way the way we see it it’s better to have a Tyler then not to have one. That it’s better for Tandem to become an insulin delivery company and not just an insulin pump company.
Tandem already has a relationship with Dexcom and could easily acquire a connected insulin pen and/or connected pen cap cover. They could then use the Sugarmate app to deliver insulin dosing recommendations to their Tyler patients. Not to get off track but the app used with Tyler will be critical as with so many Tyler’s under development all of which will do the same thing basically the same way the usability of the app could become a major selling point. The easier the app is to use the more patient friendly it is the better.
Tandem knows that the user interface for their insulin pumps is major distinction between them and Medtronic. Tandem insulin pumps are iPhone like while Medtronic pumps are like old fashioned pagers. Medtronic is trying to get to the 21st century Tandem is already there. Simply put when you are in a commodity market even when you have the coolest toy in the toy chest design matters.
Now we could be wrong here but we sure as hell hope we aren’t. Given the dynamics of the insulin delivery market with everyone and we do mean everyone developing a Tyler insulin pump companies all of them should get on the Tyler bandwagon. The insulin companies are taking forever to bring their Tyler’s to market which opens the door for Tandem and anyone else whose smart enough to beat them to the punch.
And it should be noted that the insulin companies aren’t the only ones who want a Tyler, some old fashioned BGM companies are sniffing around as are some of the way cool whiz bang patient coaching platforms and let’s not forget Dexcom and Abbott who could easily play in the Tyler sandbox. It stands to reason that whoever gets a real Tyler to market first will have a major advantage.
The insulin companies want to be there to help sell more insulin. The BGM companies want to be there to remain relevant. The coaching platforms want one as it will give them a competitive advantage. The insulin pump companies should be there to protect their pump franchises while adding a new revenue source from a fertile group of patients who can later be converted to a pump. Dexcom and Abbott want to sell more sensors and whether they have a Tyler of their own or work with the Tyler’s under development they could be the biggest winners here as Tyler cannot function without an accurate reliable sensor.
Just as point of clarification given the warning that came with the Libre2 approval Abbott has some work to do before they can play in the Tyler sandbox. Not that we would tell Dexcom how to run their business especially since they are doing a damn good job already, but they could get a major leg up on Abbott by getting a Tyler of their own to market. They not only have the best sensor they also have the best insulin dosing algorithm and all they need is a connected pen/cap cover.
It still amazes us that no one except for Companion is even close to bringing Tyler to market. The insulin companies are dragging their feet as insulin has become a commodity and they are making more money from their growing GLP-1 franchises. The BGM companies are being BGM companies and just can’t get out of their own way. The insulin pump companies have been concentrating on hybrid closed loop systems while the coaching platforms are concentrating on adding more way cool whiz bang.
The irony here is that all of these companies are looking at the forest yet cannot see the trees. Tyler has the potential to forever change insulin use, making it simpler safer and more effective. It also can serve as a major source of revenue not from the sale of hardware but the sale of systems. In the future we can envision patients and/or their insurance companies paying a monthly fee for all the analytics and coaching a real Tyler provides.
What’s needed here is vision combined with capital and chutzpah. Someone has to grab the bull by the horns and move from design to implementation. The reality is being first to market will be huge and will allow whoever this bold company is to have open field running. As Momma Kliff used to say the best time to strike is when everyone else is sitting around thinking about doing something.