It’s Official Apple Enters the Wacky World

It’s Official Apple Enters the Wacky World

There are certain constants in life that everyone can count on. Chicago Cubs fans saying wait until next year is one, seeing the Chicago River turn green for St. Patty’s day is another, in the Pacific Northwest its salmon migrating or a rainy day in Seattle. There are just things that happen with consistency, that provide comfort as we know they are going to happen each and every year.

When it comes to the wacky world of diabetes, especially on the device side and in particular glucose monitoring a constant over the years has been that quest for .. wait for it… a non-invasive glucose monitor. A quest that Diabetic Investor has chronicled these past 20 years, yes from day one we’ve heard that not only is this quest real but when done it will revolutionize diabetes management. It would not be an overstatement to say that at one time or another every major glucose monitoring company has thrown money at this quest. It would also be true to say that billions, that’s right, billions have been spent and still there is nothing to show for all this money spent.

Still this doesn’t stop newcomers to the wacky world of diabetes, especially those on the device side and even more so those crazy enough to get into the glucose monitoring market; from buying into this quest. It’s almost like a company cannot enter the BGM market without at some point throwing even more money at this quest.  It’s like a rite of passage that a company cannot officially be in the wacky world of diabetes devices without pursuing this quest. Google is the most recent company to be officially baptized with their contact lenses that measure glucose levels.

Word now comes that after much speculation Apple is now officially in the wacky world of diabetes devices. Now some would say that Apple actually has been in this wacky world ever since Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) launched the way cool and now way dead iBGStar. Yet to Diabetic Investor this does not match the standard as Apple did not manufacturer or market the iBGStar, nope this masterpiece of a project was left to our good friends in France.

According to an article posted on Mobile Health; “If Apples rumored iWatch becomes a reality, odds are that it is going to connect to the HealthKit and have some medical device functions. Patents from 2011, reported in Qmed’s sister website MD+DI, suggest a device that might be able to track a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, and haptic feedback. There has even been speculation of non-invasive continuous glucose monitors for diabetics.

It is little wonder, then, that the iWatch is rumored to be held up by the FDA.”

If this rumor turns out to be true and we honestly think it is, we can officially welcome Apple to the wacky world of diabetes devices. Yes welcome to the world of declining reimbursement, declining usage, an obtrusive regulatory environment and more competition than the smartphone market.

As much as Diabetic Investor would like to give Apple some credit as they just aren’t going for a non-invasive glucose monitor, nope they are jumping into the deep end of the pool with a non-invasive continuous monitor that comes as part of a watch. The fact is this hardly an original idea, not even close. Given that the folks at Apple likely don’t have too many gray hairs, which is a very polite way of saying Diabetic Investor is getting old and the youngsters at Apple are somewhat clueless, this idea has been tried and failed; not once but twice.

Way, way back in the day there was the GlucoWatch, more recently there was the non-defunct C8 MediSensors.  The main difference between the two is that the GlucoWatch actually received FDA approval only to fail when Cygnus tried to commercialize the product. Truth be told companies like Dexcom (NASDAQ:DXCM) would not exist today if it were not for the GlucoWatch. In fact, it’s fair to say the entire CGM market would not be here today if it wasn’t for the GlucoWatch. Yes it was a truly bad product that didn’t work all that well, hence the failure when it hit the market. However, thanks to Cygnus the FDA set the standards for how they would approve a continuous glucose monitor. Cygnus may have failed as a company but they did break new ground with the FDA.

C8 on the other hand never made it to market, even after they were able to swindle $8 million away corporate behemoth GE. Some may recall that at one time GE was all set to enter the BGM market, believing like everyone else that with diabetes growing at epidemic rates it would be pretty easy to gain a toehold in the market, especially with the great GE brand awareness. Yes that company, who brings good things to light, finally saw the light and decided the BGM market really wasn’t a good place to be after all.

Rumor has it that Apple has actually hired some folks who used to work at C8, believing that with their huge cash balance, based on recent reports the company has close to $165 BILLION in cash; they can succeed and make this thing work. Now Diabetic Investor has seen some pretty wacky things over the years. Yet we’ve never witnessed any company blow nearly $200 billion on a product that doesn’t have a prayer of becoming a reality. The closest thing we’ve witnessed to date is watching Roche turn a billion dollar franchise into a million dollar one. Should Apple continue this foolish quest, it would easily top what’s going on at Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), a company who seem intent on seeing a 70% market share shrink to a 50% or less share.

Just as we noted with the equally ill-fated Google contact lenses, many people will just assume Apple will succeed just because their Apple. After all this is the company that came up with the way cool Macintosh computer, the way cool iPhone and way cool tablet computer.  Yes it’s fair to say the innovations out of Apple have forever altered our universe. Still this does not mean that this way cool company won’t fall into the same trap as those who have come before.

Just as we noted with Google’s contact lenses, Diabetic Investor has yet to find any respected researcher with knowledge of CGM who believes this effort to develop a non-invasive continuous glucose monitor will be successful. And just as we have noted with Google’s contact lenses, even if by some miracle Apple succeeded where everyone else has failed. Was actually able to get the damn thing to work and then get it through the FDA, they would soon realize that there is no way to make any money commercializing it.

Yes Apple may have greater plans for the iWatch than just glucose data and as we noted just yesterday they likely will be a serious player as was we move towards interconnected diabetes management (IDM).  Still this does not mean that just because they are Apple and have a ton of cash they can blow on this project that they will succeed.

Still it’s great to have a way cool company like Apple in the wacky world of diabetes.  This foolish quest to develop a non-invasive continuous glucose monitor that’s part of the iWatch makes it official. Welcome to the club, hope you have plenty of Pepto-Bismol® on hand.