Just in time for Halloween

Just in time for Halloween

Just when it looked like things couldn’t get any stranger in the wacky world of diabetes it does. Thanks to our friends at Sanofi (NYSE:SNY), that pharma giant who has tried just about everything to lessen their dependence on Lantus, the world’s number one selling insulin which is getting set to go off patent comes another brilliant idea. Keep in mind this is the company who’s short-acting insulin Apidra has been a colossal failure, has a GLP-1 that will never see the light of day and had a way cool blood glucose meter that worked with the way cool iPhone but never gained any traction and is now also dead. This is also the company that somehow thought that selling special launch bags would somehow translate into greater sales.

Word now comes that the company is launching a diabetes game targeted at children with diabetes. This game called Monster Manor comes in the form of an app which works, thank goodness, with all mobile platforms and not just the way cool iPhone. According to a story on the pmlive web site; “The company wants to encourage children with type I diabetes to better manage their condition through regular blood glucose testing in a move that builds on its mobile diabetes experiences with the iPhone-compatible iBGStar meter.”  Keep in mind this meter does NOT work with the new iPhone 5 and has virtually no presence in the market.

Now before everyone starts’ saying this is just Diabetic Investor doing its usual bashing of another dumb idea, we really don’t think it’s a dumb idea at all. Quite the contrary anything that engages a patient, no matter how old they are, can be a useful tool. As we have noted on numerous occasions it has proven over and over that patients who test their glucose regularly have better overall outcomes. So no this not a dumb idea, what’s dumb is Sanofi spending all this money to reach 0.26% of the diabetes market, which according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) that’s the percentage of patients with diabetes who are under the age of 20 or about 1 in every 400 children.

To Diabetic Investor this is the perfect example of a company throwing good money at an already dead product, the aforementioned iBGStar. A product which as we have noted many times never was really given a chance by the company, which translated into dismal sales which further translated  into the company left with tons of unsold inventory which had to be dumped at fire sale prices. Honestly if Sanofi believes this app will somehow revive this already dead product there is no need for Diabetic Investor to even solicit nominations for our annual Corporate Frog awards.

The launch of this app and many of the other failures by the company in the diabetes arena point to one thing which is becoming clearer by the day, not only is Sanofi the gang that can’t shot straight when it comes to diabetes, it is also lost in the wilderness. At one time it looked like Sanofi was going to be the first company to launch a complete diabetes management system, a system which would include all the tools a patient needed to manage their diabetes. A system whose real goal was to lessen the company’s dependence on Lantus sales as the company knows that not only does Lilly (NYSE:LLY) have a Lantus copycat coming to market but a generic version is also coming. Put more simply the Lantus gravy train is coming to an end.

It should also be noted that Sanofi is not the first company to try and tie glucose monitoring to a game, a strategy which Bayer attempted with their Digit meter which was also targeted at kids.  Nothing against the good folks at Bayer but Sanofi must be getting pretty desperate to copy a strategy of a company which is fading into the abyss and will likely soon be out of the BGM entirely. But this is classic Sanofi a company which fails to grasp the obvious and will do anything to avoid the inevitable fallout which will come when Lantus loses patent protection.

Frankly if the company wanted to copy someone they should perhaps take a look at what LifeScan, a unit of Johnson and Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is doing with their partnership with Healthy Outcomes where patients are rewarded for regularly monitoring their glucose. Or perhaps take a look at their arch rival Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) who is also testing an incentive program for their patients. While it’s too early to tell how either of these programs will fare over the long run it is at least encouraging that some companies are finally waking up to the fact that the old ways of doing things just aren’t working and it’s time for a new approach.

As we all know Halloween is a great holiday for kids, haunted houses and the candy industry;  a time when people can play dress up as they head to costume parties.  For Sanofi the scary part isn’t their continued belief in these idiotic ideas, the real scary part is they really believe they will translate into greater sales. This is not just astonishing but down right amazing considering that about the only thing the company has done in right in diabetes has been Lantus. It’s about time the company stopped playing kid’s game and graduates to the grown-ups table- The sooner the better.