Let’s play follow the leader

Let’s play follow the leader

There are certain things that everyone can count on when it comes to the glucose monitoring market unfortunately originality is not among them. While every business has its share of copycats the glucose monitoring market, excuse the reference, takes the cake.  The latest example of this me-too copycat mentality comes from our good friends at Roche who announced today according to a company issued press release; “Roche Diabetes Care and Glooko, Inc. join forces to provide ACCU-CHEK meter users an easy solution to download their meter readings directly into their Apple iPhone® or iPod touch.”

Yep, just a few weeks after Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) launches their iBGStar monitor which actually attaches to the ever popular iPhone and somewhat popular iPod touch, Roche makes this announcement. We long have known that Roche Diabetes Care was a sinking ship, lacking innovation and leadership. And we really thought the company could not provide us with even more examples of how they are managing this unit into the ground. However, as this move proves we were wrong, dead wrong.

Now Diabetic Investor sees nothing wrong with Glooko which according to the Roche press release; “Glooko™ is an innovative Silicon Valley startup with a unique solution for people with diabetes. In November 2011, Glooko launched the Glooko MeterSync Cable and Glooko Logbook app for iOS devices. The products enable people with diabetes to easily collect and view the information needed to help them successfully control their blood glucose readings.”  Just for anyone who does not understand corporate speak, Diabetic Investor will translate- Glooko is basically an electronic logbook.

Yes we know there will be people hailing this move as another step towards interconnected diabetes management. Many will state this shows how today’s advanced technology when made easy to use will help patients with diabetes better manage their disease. Something we’re sure will be discussed at great length at the upcoming annual ADA conference in Philly; a conference which will likely feature all sorts of whiz bang gadgets and gizmos which in theory will make life easier for the patient with diabetes.

The only problem is all of these fancy gadgets and gizmos assume that the patient is actually monitoring their glucose regularly – which they aren’t – and that patients want to take the additional step of transferring this data from their meters to another device. Unlike the iBGStar which actually attaches to an iPhone and iPod touch, patients who opt for the Glooko app have to PAY for the CABLE or IR Adaptor which transfers the data to the iPhone or IPod touch.  Now how this actually makes the patient’s life any easier is beyond Diabetic Investor but that as they say is a story for another day.

It’s about time someone explained to these companies the facts of life when it comes to glucose monitoring and diabetes management; the vast majority of patients have no idea what these numbers mean or how to use them to more effectively manage their diabetes. That with each advancement in glucose monitoring technology – small sample sizes, faster test results, alternate site testing –there has NOT been a corresponding increase in testing frequency. That glucose monitors have become a commodity where price not performance is the overriding factor driving market share. And finally all of these new whiz bang gadgets and gizmos are targeted at insulin using patients and although this segment of the market – interconnected diabetes management systems- while still in its infancy is already becoming oversaturated and devoid of new ideas.

The simple fact is until patients begin to understand what these numbers mean and how to use them to more effectively manage their diabetes none of these systems will gain significant market share. Although Diabetic Investor is pretty sure that the big players in the BGM market will buy up start-ups like Glooko, on the false belief that because these companies are connected – albeit with a cable – to the iPhone they are way cool. If there is one thing the major players in BGM are known for is throwing very good money after very stupid, non-revenue producing ideas. This is the reason non-invasive companies continue to get funding, why major conglomerates like GE (NYSE:GE) have invested in non-invasive continuous monitoring which is really nothing more than a scam. This is the reason major BGM companies started offering meters in fancy colors, hoping that somehow because the meter looked different patients would test more frequently.

It’s ironic that this year’s ADA conference returns to Philly as the last time the conference was in the City of Brotherly Love, Johnson and Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) launched the InDuo device. Now since there are so many newbies in the diabetes device sector allow Diabetic Investor to provide a short history lesson.  The InDuo combined a LifeScan glucose monitor with a Novo insulin pen and was supposed to make glucose monitoring and insulin dosing easier – sound familiar? Yes everyone hailed this a major move forward, a product that would surly gain major market share as it was driven by two market leaders. Just where is the InDuo today, like so many ill-conceived over-hyped poorly thought out products- dead and buried.

Diabetic Investor would like to believe that diabetes device companies would learn from mistakes of the past but we have been around too long and have too many gray hairs. The harsh reality is these companies just don’t get it, never have and likely never will. Instead of dealing with the root cause as to why more patients don’t test their glucose regularly they avoid the issue. Instead they have wasted millions on whiz bang technology that only a handful of patients understand or use.  Unless there is dramatic departure from what has become standard operating procedure, interconnected diabetes management systems will suffer the same fate as the InDuo.