Putting lipstick on a pig

Putting lipstick on a pig

This morning our wine drinking friends in France announced a partnership with Google, yes according to a jointly issued press release;

“Sanofi and the life sciences team at Google announced today that they are collaborating to improve care and outcomes for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The collaboration will pair Sanofi’s leadership in diabetes treatments and devices with Google’s expertise in analytics, miniaturized electronics and low power chip design. The companies will explore how to improve diabetes care by developing new tools that bring together many of the previously siloed pieces of diabetes management and enable new kinds of interventions. This includes health indicators such as blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c levels, patient-reported information, medication regimens and sensor devices.

Sanofi and the life sciences team at Google will combine their respective expertise in science and technology to work on better ways to collect, analyze and understand multiple sources of information impacting diabetes. The hope is that it will be easier for patients to successfully manage their diabetes, which would reduce the risk of complications, improve outcomes and ultimately lower costs.”

This is the second diabetes related collaboration announced by Google recently the first coming with Dexcom (NASDAQ:DXCM) and while Diabetic Investor sees the Dexcom/Google collaboration as a great combination we see the Sanofi (NYSE:SNY)/ Google as nothing more than a distraction.

Let’s be honest here as Sanofi needs Google more than Google needs Sanofi. The Sanofi diabetes franchise is in complete disarray and this announcement at least temporarily will distract people from the very real and very serious issues facing this franchise today.  Issues that will not solved by this partnership.

Yet we did get a good chuckle reading that this “collaboration will pair Sanofi’s leadership in diabetes treatments and devices”  ….  While it is true that Lantus is the world’s number one selling insulin it’s the only diabetes treatment that has ever been a winner and it’s about to face some serious competition.

Now devices are another story, more like a horror story. Keep in mind this is the same company who launched the now very dead iBGStar – remember that one that way cool whiz bang glucose monitor that worked with the equally way cool whiz bang iPhone. A product that died for many reasons not the least of which being that Apple changed the connector port on a newer version of the iPhone making it so the iBGStar no longer could connect to the phone.

Keep in mind that this is the same company who believed that patients would actually pay good money to buy the iBGStar and that these same people wouldn’t mind paying even more money to buy an attachment that would allow the iBGStar to work with newer versions of the iPhone.

This is also the same company who announced they were partnering with Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) the leader in the insulin pump market. A partnership which according to a joint press release issued back in June of 2014 stated;

“Sanofi (EURONEXT: SAN and NYSE: SNY) and Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE: MDT) today announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to enter into a global strategic alliance in diabetes, aimed at improving patient experience and outcomes for people with diabetes around the world. The alliance will initially focus on two key priorities: the development of drug-device combinations and delivery of care management services to improve adherence, simplify insulin treatment, and help people with diabetes better manage their condition.

The alliance will be structured as an open-innovation model, leveraging the capabilities, as well as the human and financial resources, of both companies. Based on the success of the two initial priorities, the companies may explore other areas for potential collaboration.”

Where is this partnership today – nowhere and as dead as the iBGStar. Although Medtronic would never publicly state that working with Sanofi was difficult if not impossible. The fact is Sanofi does not play well with others and has a reputation for being just a little arrogant.

Given this set of circumstances one might ask why would Google, who’s known for being smarter than the average bear would partner with the Keystone Cops. Basically they nothing to lose and everything to gain by the deal plus it will take years before anything materializes from this deal assuming they don’t get frustrated with Sanofi and walk away. As we saw with the Medtronic partnership, collaborations are no different than personal relationships in that just because two companies agree to work together it doesn’t mean they will end up together.

Diabetic Investor suspects that just as Medtronic became frustrated with Sanofi’s lack of action, arrogant attitude and inability to make a decision; so too will Google. The fact they could put together a collaboration isn’t that surprising as we’re sure Sanofi was on their best behavior. Yet making this collaboration work is another story and given Sanofi’s track record we doubt this will work in the long run.

The fact is they can talk all they want about what they could do together but as we have seen far too often with Sanofi talk is cheap. It’s action that really counts and action isn’t something Sanofi is known for, avoiding responsibility and lacking accountability is more their speed.