May the force be with us
This Thursday evening Star Wars fan will begin filling theaters to watch perhaps the most anticipated Star Wars film ever, The Last Jedi. This film saga which began way back in 1977 has many similarities with the wacky world of diabetes. Besides all the whiz bang way cool lightsabers, droids and X-wing fighters we also have the classic theme of good versus evil.
Now it would be too easy when using a Star Wars theme to cast Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) in the role of the evil empire. But what the heck if the shoe fits. But if Medtronic is the evil empire building the Death Star intent on destroying those pesky rebels, who can we cast in the rebel role. See in a classic good vs. evil saga the rebels cannot be a bunch of blithering idiots who can’t seem to boil water without screwing it up. Rebels are supposed to be the good guys, the underdogs fighting a worthy cause against what looks like insurmountable odds.
Many have attempted to be rebels, but none have demonstrated anything but their own incompetence. Neither Animas, the soon to be dead insulin pump unit of Johnson and Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Tandem (NASDAQ: TNDM) who’s not quite dead yet but is in critical condition nor Insulet (NASDAQ: PODD) who’s very much alive fill the role of the pesky rebel. Perhaps Beta Bionics who has the way cool whiz bang iLet should be given the role.
We’d cast Dexcom (NASDAQ: DXCM) in the role as they do have a wise management team who’s seen a thing or too, i.e. Obi-Wan Kenobi, but so far anyway they are not in the insulin pump business. The force is strong with Dexcom and who knows they could soon be going against the evil empire not just in the CGM market but pumps too.
Looking at the therapy side of the ledger the role of the evil empire isn’t played by any drug company but the healthcare system itself. Everyone wants to paint the insulin makers as evil. They see these companies raising the list price of insulin and blame them for the “high” out of pocket cost. They fail to note the role played by health insurance companies or PBM’s. This is not to say the drug companies are angels, they aren’t. This has more to do with our screwed-up health care system and all the pieces that make up this very complex puzzle.
Now this is not to say some companies aren’t attempting to play the role of the rebels. OneDrop is actively auditioning for the role. Yes, these lovers of self-reported data combined with fuzzy math tell everyone and anyone who will listen that they are just a small company with a dedicated and passionate staff. That like the rebels in the movie all they want to do is help patients with diabetes. A nice story but that’s all that it is, a story. Real rebels do not attempt to short circuit the system, they do not make claims which aren’t backed up with independently verified data.
We could say that Google, Apple, Amazon and the rest of the high-tech cash rich companies who are making the deep dive into diabetes are rebels. But rebels don’t normally have billions in cash, rebels are typically under financed barley able to survive. These companies are trying to develop disruptive technology which will blow up the Death Star but casting them as real rebels just doesn’t seem right.
Perhaps we should cast Bigfoot in the role as they fill many of the requirements. They are compared to the Evil Empire a rag tag group of dedicated warriors. Like true rebels they are under financed and in many ways out gunned. Yet this determined group has gumption and the zeal to succeed. They know their up against what looks like insurmountable odds but remain unfazed. Like the rebels in the movie they believe they have found the fatal flaw in the design of the Death Star.
Whoever fills this role we truly hope the force is with them. Not that we despise the Evil Empire as they did not by design take over the world. Like so many Empires they got lots of help from their competitors who have more in common with the Keystone Cops then they do with knowing how to run a commercially viable diabetes company. And let’s be honest what saga that pits good vs. evil does not need a good villain ala Darth Vader. Who as any real Star Wars fan knows was at one time a rebel himself who was turned to the Dark Side of the Force to save his pregnant wife.
May the force be with us all this holiday season.