Patch it up

Back in 2006 after our beloved Chicago Bears came back to beat the Arizona Cardinals the late Dennis Green who has Arizona’s head coach delivered one of the greatest rants ever. Now for none Bears fans who have not seen this outstanding rant we highly recommend looking it up on YouTube. The “they are who we thought they are” rant deserves a place in the rant Hall of Fame. It’s debatable which rant is better this one or Jim Mora’s playoff rant but there is no doubt both are worthy of induction in the rant Hall of Fame.

We were reminded of this rant when we read that the JDRF has help fund yet another OmniPod wannabe. Per a story on FireceBiotech;

“JDRF and Cam Med are partnering on a bandage-like insulin patch pump for use in next-generation “artificial pancreas” systems.

With funding from JDRF, Cam Med, which specializes in microfluidic-based drug delivery, will advance its Evopump, a thin and flexible pump designed for the delivery of one or more injectable drugs.”

But the Cam Med funding is just one of many deals made by the JDRF in the patch pump space. Back on January 25th the organization announced via a press release;

“JDRF, the global leading organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, is pleased to announce a new Industry Development and Discovery Partnership supporting South Korea’s EOFlow Co., Ltd. in the development of a wearable, disposable automated insulin delivery patch device for people with T1D.

EOFlow recently received Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) approval on its wearable insulin pump system, EOPatch. The product incorporates a proprietary electroosmotic pumping technology which allows it to be smaller and lighter and the company plans to build on this strength to create a small, light and wearable automated insulin delivery device suitable for children’s use.”

Let’s not stop there as just a few days before this announcement the organization stated again via a press release;

“SFC Fluidics, Inc. (SFC), a medical technology company, today announced a new Industry Development and Discovery Partnership supported by JDRF, the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research.

JDRF will provide funding to SFC for the development of a single pod Automated Insulin Delivery (AID) device and thus, expand future therapy options for people with T1D. JDRF launched its Artificial Pancreas Project in 2006 to accelerate the development of commercially available closed-loop systems. Since then, significant progress has been made and several automated insulin delivery systems have progressed to human clinical trials, with one currently on the market.”

Now we’re sure these companies have some way cool whiz bang toys and are worthy of JDRF support. We’re also pretty sure that none of these companies nor the JDRF have given any thought as to whether they can be commercially viable toy makers. Like everyone else and the JDRF is no different it’s all about way cool whiz bang commercial viability be damned.

We also suspect the JDRF is throwing all this money around because they are pissed off at Johnson and Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) for shut down Animas and sending those patients to the evil empire. The same empire they once praised for developing the first “artificial pancreas” when even Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) acknowledges that the 670G is not a real artificial pancreas. But let’s not let the facts get in the way of good fantasy or fund-raising pitch.

Keep in mind this is the same organization that took undeserved credit for getting the Dexcom (NASDAQ: DXCM) CGM covered by Medicare. Yep, nothing like taking credit that isn’t deserved and then using this as what else a fund-raising pitch.
Now we’re sure, well maybe not, that the JDRF’s heart is in the right place. That they care about something other than raising more money. That they truly believe they can identify winners and can help these start-ups achieve victory with some funding. Too bad their track record in this area is less than impressive but as they old saying goes; sometimes it’s better to look like your doing something than to accomplish anything.

Diabetic Investor can remember well back in the day when this organization stated loudly that a true artificial pancreas would be available in four years. Well here we are some 10 years after that statement was made and the artificial pancreas is where?

Listen we get it the JDRF screwed up and now is trying to hide this screw up by funding more companies that don’t have a prayer of being commercially viable. Let’s say by some miracle that just one of these efforts makes it to market, what then? We’ll tell what they will find it very tough sledding and likely suffer the same fate as every other company that has gone up against Medtronic.

Look at Insulet (NASDAQ: PODD) a company that has product on the market. As well as they have done lately its worth noting that it took the company over 11 years to hit the 100,000-patient mark and they are still not within spitting distance of Medtronic.

Since the JDRF began their vaunted quest for an artificial pancreas, Deltec, Roche, Asante and now Animas have come and gone. Tandem (NASDAQ: TNDM) another company loved by the JDRF is about to join this group. Yet just as industry likes to throw good money into a bad business model the JDRF follows suit.

See this is what happens when the focus, the fascination is with the toys. Never mind that even the coolest sexiest toy doesn’t help much when the company that makes this toy cannot sell it, cannot support it or get it reimbursed so patients play with it.

Now one just might think that the JDRF an organization that is supposedly committed to helping patients with diabetes would understand this. That they would learn from past mistakes and understand that perhaps they should spend some of the money they swindle from donors should be spent on improving patient access to these way cool whiz bang toys.

That while way cool whiz bang is so damn sexy that funding all these sexy projects is like a regular guy watching the Victoria Secret fashion show and thinking hey I should call up that sexy super model for a date. And, thinking this super model will say yes.

We’re all for better toys but given the choice between cooler toys and better patient access we’ll take patient access every time.