The EYES Have It

The EYES Have It

According to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal, Google is developing a “smart” contact lens that …wait for it .. measures a patients glucose levels. The story states; “Using a wireless chip and miniature glucose sensor embedded between two layers of contact lens material, the lenses are designed to measure glucose levels in tears.” Now we pretty sure that everyone on the West coast or as some would say the left coast are jumping with joy over this news. While they may not be Apple, Google is still pretty cool and very techy.

The question Diabetic Investor has for Google, Apple, Samsung and the other tech companies who are also working on various way cool glucose devices – is why when the glucose monitoring market is going down the toilet do they want to enter this market. Why would they want to deal with the slower than molasses ultra-conservative FDA, who can’t even approve a simple glucose monitors quickly? Why would they want to enter a market that is really isn’t growing and where reimbursement is becoming more problematic with each day?

Well we’ll tell you what all this way cool high tech companies have in common is the never ending belief that way cool high tech products can solve every problem facing the planet. They all believe that it really doesn’t matter what the market dynamics might be, a way cool high tech device will be snapped up by consumers no matter what the cost just because it’s a way cool high tech device. Basically what all these companies believe is that a glucose monitor is really no different than an iPhone and that if they come up with a way cool glucose monitoring system it will snapped up just as the iPhone was when it was first launched.

Now Diabetic Investor hates to rain on their parade but a glucose monitor is not an iPhone and it never will be. While a glucose monitor is not an overly sophisticated regulated medical device, it is a medical device that is regulated by the FDA.  Diabetic Investor would just love to see the faces of the Google team when the FDA comes to them with a list of stupid questions before they can approve their glucose measuring contact lenses. We would pay good money to watch this team deal with delay after delay because this is just the way the FDA operates. It will be equally amusing to see them deal with payors who could care less about way cool and only care about what the damn thing costs. And no matter what it costs they’ll want it at an even lower price.

Keep in mind the folks at Google, Apple and Samsung are used to six month product cycle, well we hate to break to them but at the FDA it takes six months just to get a meeting scheduled. Now on the plus side the folks at Google, Apple and Samsung are used to dealing with a commodity market as smartphones like glucose monitors have become a commodity, the main difference being consumers want a smartphone and really could care less which glucose meter they use. Quite frankly as way cool as many of the devices they are also a constant reminder to the patient they have diabetes. This is one thing that these way cool, high tech companies just don’t get patients with diabetes really don’t like to be reminded that they have diabetes which is one of the reasons that even a non-invasive way cool glucose monitor isn’t a sure fire hit.

One thing you can take the bank is the diabetes blogging community will go gaga over this news, which is exactly what companies like Google, Apple and Samsung count on. These dedicated and passionate bloggers just love way cool high tech products that have absolutely no chance of being commercially successful, but then again why let a little thing like making money get in the way of a way cool high tech diabetes device that only a handful of patients will use or can afford.

Come to think of it Diabetic Investor sees another happy group of people, namely Johnson and Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Roche, Abbott (NYSE:ABT) and Bayer. With Google, Apple and Samsung getting set to enter the market they want to be out of maybe these way cool high tech companies who have boatloads of money will come along and buy them. Should such an event occur it would confirm to Diabetic Investor that while these companies are way cool they suffer from the same delusions as everyone else who’s entered this market, that people will pay serious money for a better mousetrap. Yet the reality is this just isn’t the case when it comes to glucose monitoring, a market that as we noted just the other day is in a death spiral.

Let’s hope for Google’s sake that besides measuring glucose levels these way cool high tech contact lenses helps them see the market clearly and not through rose colored glasses.