The Empire Strikes Back

Frankly it took us some time to compose our self after reading that Medtronic was issuing a recall for their older pumps. The evil empire is not known for doing anything in the best interest of the patient and this recall is no different. This so-called recall is just another way for the empire to do two things it has always wanted to do anyway- force patients using these older pumps into a buying a new one and kill the rebel forces of the Looping movement, more on that in a moment.

As we’ve been reporting things haven’t been going well for the empire as Tandem and Insulet have been winning the battle for new patients. Medtronic continues to hold onto formulary dominance, but word has gotten around that the 670G isn’t all that way cool or whiz bang which is hurting Medtronic in another area existing patient conversions. With the largest installed user base the empire had hoped patients using older pumps would jump at the chance to convert to the newer cooler whiz bang 670G.

Since this didn’t happen voluntarily Medtronic did what all good gangsters do and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. Medtronic’s letter to impacted patients’ states;

‘You are receiving this letter because our records indicate you may be using a MiniMed™ 508 insulin pump or a MiniMed™ Paradigm™ series insulin pump. Because your safety is our top priority, we are making you aware of a potential cybersecurity risk.

Potential cybersecurity risk:

The MiniMed™ 508 insulin pump and the MiniMed™ Paradigm™ series insulin pumps are designed to communicate using a wireless radio frequency (RF) with other devices such as a blood glucose meters, glucose sensor transmitters, and CareLink™ USB devices.

Security researchers have identified potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities related to these insulin pumps. An unauthorized person with special technical skills and equipment could potentially connect wirelessly to a nearby insulin pump to change settings and control insulin delivery. This could lead to hypoglycemia (if additional insulin is delivered) or hyperglycemia and diabetic ketoacidosis (if not enough insulin is delivered).

IMPORTANT NOTE: At this time, we have received no confirmed reports of unauthorized persons changing settings or controlling insulin delivery.”

Ok now here comes the good part for Medtronic –

“Due to this potential cybersecurity issue, we recommend that you speak with your healthcare provider about changing to a newer model insulin pump with increased cybersecurity protection, such as the MiniMed™ 670G insulin pump.”

Now we’re pretty sure after Momma Kliff was done dropping a few F bombs she’d say that the empire certainly has chutzpah. Nothing like scaring the patient and then say oh by the way why don’t you buy our shiny new toy which really doesn’t work all that well but will help us make our numbers so we can earn our big fat bonus checks. This goes well beyond chutzpah and shows the depths the empire will sink too because patients have found out the 670G isn’t all that great. Talk about bringing a gun to a knife fight my goodness.

But why stop at screwing your existing patient base why not tell your new partners to bend over and get out the KY. For this is exactly what the empire has done to the Looping community. We speculated that after the empire signed a deal with Tidepool at the ADA this product would never see the light of day and was just a way to pacify the looping community which hates the empire with a passion only rebels can have.

See the folks at Tidepool are the ones who have hacked into older Medtronic pumps, the exact ones being recalled, and did something the empire couldn’t do. Turned them into a viable hybrid closed loop insulin delivery system that actually works, imagine that. This in turn has created a secondary market for these older pumps as these patients desperate for a system that actually works buy them up. Since the empire is desperate to increase their bottom line what better way to kill a movement then to cut off the supply of these older pumps.

Let’s be crystal here folks NONE OF THIS IS BEING DONE IN THE INTEREST OF PATIENT SAFTEY THIS IS NOTHING MORE THAN AN ATTEMPT TO BOOST THE EMPIRE’S BOTTOM LINE AND KILL THE LOOPING MOVEMENT. Is there a risk that someone could hack into an unsuspecting patients pump and tell it to deliver a lethal amount of insulin, yes. However even the empire acknowledges this risk is minimal at best. As the letter to impacted patients’ states;

“IMPORTANT NOTE: At this time, we have received no confirmed reports of unauthorized persons changing settings or controlling insulin delivery.”

Are we shocked by this move sadly no. Screwing the patient has become standard operating procedure for the empire. But this is what happens when you control almost 70% of the market and own the most valuable piece of insulin pump real estate; formulary position. Rather than fix the 670G and come out with products that work, rather than compete fairly the empire continues their evil ways.

We’d say that the folks at Medtronic should be ashamed of themselves, but they have no shame. They could care less about patients all they care about is their own greed. We’ve seen many shameless acts in our 20 plus years covering this wacky world of ours, but none comes even close to this move. Our one and only hope is that FDA does not stop with this warning and does what needs to be done forcing the company to deal with the many problems with the 670G.

Quite frankly it’s the folks at Medtronic who should be told to bend over and go BLANK themselves.