The Diabetes Market – More than just drugs and devices

The Diabetes Market – More than just drugs and devices

Given the exploding population of patients with diabetes and pre-diabetes it’s easy to see why so many people look at the diabetes market in terms of drugs used to treat patients or devices used by patients. Some of the more enlightened folks out there will go beyond this narrow view and look at the impact diabetes has on retailers, pharmacy benefit managers and insurers. To illustrate just how deep diabetes has penetrated nearly every aspect of our economy and its impact on business check out the latest earnings call from Nutrisystem® (NASDAQ:NTRI).

The company has recently introduced a new diet specifically for people with diabetes. Backed by clinical research, which will be published online in August and print in September, the company is touting the fact that patients not only lose weight but enjoy the additional benefit of lower glucose levels. But the program isn’t just about what the patient eats. The company uses coaching and the internet to keep the patient motivated and educated.

Listening to their most recent conference call the program is off to a great start and has helped the company offset some recent weakness in their traditional diet business. According to press release issued by the company this past Wednesday; “The second quarter was very challenging, but trends improved late in the quarter concurrent with our launch of Nutrisystem D,” stated Chairman and CEO  Joe Redling. “The Diabetic program strengthens our overall product offering, holds excellent promise for growth and with it we expect to see improved trends in the second half of 2009.”

Diabetic Investor is encouraged by the Nutrisystem program particularly in light of the current concern patients have over possible drug related adverse events. A weight lose program has the additional benefit of producing a tangible result for the patient. For all the advancements in drugs and devices one factor that often gets lost when trying to explain why patients are not compliant with their therapy option is lack of tangible results seen by the patient. As we have said many times before diabetes is a 24 hour per day job with no days off.  This job becomes even harder when the patient does not see or feel any tangible benefits from all their hard work. With the Nutrisystem program all the patient has to do is look in the mirror or step on the scale.

While it’s too early to tell the long term impact of the program Diabetic Investor is encouraged by what we’ve seen so far. With 24 million patients with diabetes and another 57 million with pre-diabetes, don’t be surprised when companies like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig try and copy what Nutrisystem has done.