The insulin pump world is still stinging over Johnson and Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) decision to shut down Animas. Judging by the reaction on social media there are some very unhappy campers out in insulin pump land. There is also a bunch of misinformation, conjuncture and conspiracies about why JNJ did what they did. We don’t blame these people for being ticked as their lives have been just been tuned upside down. However, the target of their displeasure should not be JNJ or Medtronic (NYSE: MDT), who is being unfairly blamed for Animas demise.
Sorry but we just cannot let this pass any longer but if patients really want to blame someone they should start with the organizations that claim to care about patients with diabetes. These organizations which sat around and did nothing when everyone was telling them how difficult it was to get their insurance company to cover their pump and pump supplies. These are the same organizations that sat around while and let Congress institute competitive bidding and now have the delusional belief Congress will reverse themselves.
The JDRF is one of the bigger hypocrites here. This organization which is supposed to be dedicated to patients with Type 1 diabetes. This organization which has wasted millions of dollars in pursuit of that way cool whiz bang toy that only a handful of patients will use and most cannot afford. This organization which takes undeserved credit for events which industry made happen. Let’s face facts the JDRF could care less about patient choice, all they care about is getting donations so they can fund their pet projects.
Sure, the JDRF will gladly accept money from pump and CGM companies so they can play with their toys but when it comes to making these technologies more accessible to patients where are they.
The same goes for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). At least the JDRF issued a statement when JNJ made their announcement if the ADA did we can’t find it. Like the JDRF they will gladly accept money from these companies but when it comes to helping patients have easier access to these technologies they are mute.
The fact is these two organizations have long viewed the companies in the business of diabetes as the enemy. That because these companies make money from people with diabetes that they are evil. We have seen this attitude first hand. Yet being the hypocrites they are they have no problem soliciting these companies for donations or charging them exorbitant fees for attending their conferences. But use any of this money to actually help patients today, help make life easier for patients forget about it.
Rather than work with these companies and actually listen to them, they continue to ignore the very real problems these companies face. Problems which make it more difficult for patients to manage their diabetes.
You do not need an advanced degree from Harvard or MIT to understand that payors make life very difficult for insulin pump companies. Insulin pump patients aren’t cheap and let’s be honest all payors care about is money. It’s understandable from a business perspective why payors make patients and companies jump through so many hoops before covering a pump. All these crazy requirements and excessive paperwork adds to the cost of an insulin pump. Does it not make sense for the JDRF and ADA to work with insulin pump companies getting payors to remove some of these obstacles.
Seriously what help have patients received from these two organizations. Are insulin pumps more accessible? Is it easier for patients with diabetes to obtain coverage? Are patients with diabetes getting any better? Are we seeing improvements in patient outcomes?
These organizations which bitch and moan when a pump company signs an exclusive deal with payors claiming this will limit patient choice are clueless to the market forces which created these types of deals. Had they been proactive instead of reactive, had they worked to make insulin pumps more accessible patient choice would not be an issue. The reality is it’s not a level playing field when one company controls more than 80% of any market.
Just to be clear we do not blame Medtronic for taking advantage of their market dominance, the fact is Animas would have done the exact same thing had they been that big. But we do blame the ADA and JDRF for being deaf, for not listening, for not doing what they are supposed to be doing, namely helping patients with diabetes.
But the hypocrisy does not end with the ADA or JDRF it extends to the West Coast Mafia who like the ADA and JDRF will gladly accept money from these companies but when it comes to helping patients where are they. Are they telling pump patients who now must decide what to do that Tandem (NASDAQ: TNDM) is in serious danger of going out of business? Or are these same people who tore Medtronic a new one when they signed the exclusive deal with UnitedHealth only to do a complete about face when the 670G was approved.
Listen we are in no way claiming that these companies are as pure as fresh snow, that would be foolish. The difference however is companies are not beholden to patients they are beholden to their stakeholders, stakeholders who except them to make money. The ADA, JDRF and the West Coast Mafia are supposed to be beholden to patients. It is their job, their mission to help patients.
We will ask again, what do patients have to show for the “work” they have supposedly done. Do we have a real artificial pancreas? Are we any closer to a cure? Are these way cool whiz bang toys accessible to patients? Are payors making life easier for patients? Are patients getting any better? Are we seeing improvement in patient outcomes?
Let’s be honest after getting screwed at every turn we understand why these patients are so pissed off. The fact is there is plenty of blame to go around here. Instead of working together, helping each other these organizations and industry have done serious harm to the people they should be helping, the patient. They have helped create an environment when one company effectively controls the insulin pump market. They have helped create an environment where payors not doctors dictate how a patient is treated. They have wasted millions of dollars in the chase for shiny new toys.
Frankly we are just sick of the hypocrisy. We are sick of the patient getting the short end of the stick not once, not twice but each and every time. It’s disturbing that after all the money donated, all the money invested we have so little to show for it where it really counts, better outcomes and making patients lives easier. Yes, there are some exceptions but that speaks volumes to the problem, they should NOT be exceptions.
We have been covering this wacky world for more than 20 years now. We have seen and played with many of the toys. We have witnessed first-hand how millions, more like billions, have been wasted. We watched as industry and these organizations instead of helping each other chose instead to fight each other. Worst of all we have watched as patients mostly get screwed. This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.THIS IS AND ALWAYS SHOULD BE ABOUT PATIENTS, WHEN PATIENTS ARE PUT FIRST EVERYONE WINS AND SADLY TODAY NO ONE IS WINNING.
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