Lilly and Medtronic – Should have known better.

Lilly and Medtronic – Should have known better.

This morning during Medtronic’s (NYSE:MDT) conference call the company indicated they would soon be announcing a new initiative with Lilly (NYSE:LLY). Diabetic Investor speculated that this could mean that Lilly would be providing pre-filled insulin cartridges for Medtronic’s line of insulin pumps. Something that would actually help both companies and possible increase Lilly’s insulin sales and make Medtronic’s pumps more patient friendly. No such luck.

In a joint press release issued later this morning the big announcement was; “Working collaboratively with health care professionals, Lilly and Medtronic marketing and sales operations in the United States will work to improve the delivery of diabetes education for people and caregivers affected by type 1 diabetes – including the development of new educational resources and classes around the initiation and intensive management of insulin, insulin pump therapy and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM).”  

Talk about a major letdown. Just what people with diabetes need yet another joint effort to improve diabetes education. This is not the first nor will it be the last great collaborative effort to improve diabetes education. Given the rather disappointing results we’ve seen with previous initiatives Diabetic Investor isn’t expecting that much from this latest announcement.

As everyone knows Diabetic Investor is a strong supporter of any effort to improve the dismal state of diabetes education. Education is by far the most effective tool we have to help patients better manage their diabetes. Study after study has proven that even the smallest amount of education leads to better outcomes.

The problem with initiatives such as these is the underlying message isn’t really about education but selling more products. This is why industry efforts at education have failed so miserably in the past as they really aren’t education but thinly disguised attempts to sell more products or drugs. One just might think the industry would realize this and support non-company specific efforts that really are designed to educate the patient with diabetes.

As Bertrand Russell noted long ago; “Almost all education has a political motive: It aims at strengthening some group, national or religious or even social, in the competition with other groups. It is this motive, in the main, which determines the subjects taught, the knowledge offered and the knowledge withheld, and also decides what mental habits the pupils are expected to acquire. Hardly anything is done to foster the inward growth of mind and spirit; in fact, those who have had most education are very often atrophied in their mental and spiritual life.”