Just what we needed….

Just what we needed….

This morning Abbott (NYSE:ABT) Diabetes announced they have received a CE mark for their new FreeStyle Optium Neo Blood Glucose and Ketone Monitoring System™. According to a company issued press release; “Abbott (NYSE: ABT) announced today it has received CE Marking (Conformite Europeenne) in Europe for the FreeStyle Optium Neo Blood Glucose and Ketone Monitoring SystemTM. The new icon-driven system provides sleek design, visual glucose trend indicators and insulin logging – all delivered in a single device to support daily diabetes management.”

The release also outlines the features of the new system which are according to the release;

  • A high contrast, icon-driven display designed for ease-of-use
  • Small, sleek meter design
  • Blood glucose trend indicators, which visually notify patients when they are experiencing hypo- or hyperglycemic trends (low or high blood glucose levels)
  • An insulin dose feature, which allows healthcare professionals to program a patient’s insulin plan into the meter. Beginning from the physician’s recommendation in the dose guide, the meter is designed to allow patients to log actual insulin doses by tapping the arrows up or down. This feature is designed to enable patients and their healthcare professionals to review logged insulin doses along with glucose results.

Interestingly there is no mention in the release when this system will be available in the US.  Although Diabetic Investor has no direct knowledge of Abbott’s future plans but we suspect this system may never see the light of day here in America. The reason is simple, money or lack thereof.  One of the overlooked factors when it comes to introducing new systems here in the states is the cost of filling the pipeline. This cost is substantial when one considers this cost is not just getting meters into the hands of patients but all the additional marketing costs.

In the good old days when companies were making obscene margins from the continual sales of test strips, the costs associated with launching a new system were small when compared to the annual profit stream the sale of test strips generated. Additionally in the good old days launching a new system was almost a slam dunk when it came to generating additional sales.

This is not the case today, far from it. As everyone knows competitive bidding has drastically reduced margins, which in turn has caused all the companies in the BGM space to cut costs to the bone.  The truth is the money just isn’t there to fill the pipeline and promote a new system.

This launch also shows that Abbott continues to live in the past as they seem to believe that new technology is the key to generating additional sales. While there was a time when this was true, that time has come and gone. This new system like all the new systems being launched these days is squarely aimed at the insulin using patients. As we have noted in the past insulin using patients need the information generated by a meter so they can properly dose their insulin. As the market continues to stagnate every company in the BGM space is chasing the insulin using patient. Put more simply this is a very crowded and competitive market.

What’s more revealing to Diabetic Investor is how little BGM companies have learned from past mistakes. For all the advancements in BGM technology, smaller blood samples, faster test results and alternate site testing average testing frequency hasn’t changed one bit. Diabetic Investor doubts this fact will change with the introduction of these newer meters designed to help insulin patients.  While insulin patients need this information to properly dose their insulin the harsh reality is far too many insulin patients still have no idea how to use this data.

One could argue that these newer systems could actually overwhelm the patient with too much information. For these system to be of any real value an insulin patient would need to understand concepts such as insulin on board, duration of insulin action, time to insulin action and carb counting. As we have noted many times a glucose test result is just one of many factors that determines how much insulin should be dosed. This is a major reason physicians have dumbed down insulin dosing for their patients as they understand in the real world patients either aren’t testing or not testing enough.

To be clear Diabetic Investor is not against the introduction of these systems, quite the contrary. However, these systems will only help if the patient understands how to use the information provided by them. While BGM companies can’t seem to get it through their very thick skulls, data without education is worthless, data combined with education equals knowledge and leads to greater strip usage. That’s the thing about the BGM industry is they never let the facts get in the way of whiz bang way cool technology.

The fact is the BGM space needs another advanced system like the folks in Colorado need more rain.