The return of non-invasive glucose monitoring
This morning NIR Diagnostics (TSX Venture: NID) announced that they have reached an agreement with Lifescan, a unit of Johnson and Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), to extend by six months a feasibility study and first option agreement previously announced on January 3, 2006. NIR is seeking to develop a non-invasive glucose monitor.
What’s interesting about this announcement is the wording of the January announcement. Back in January NIR’s press release stated, “NIR Diagnostics Inc.
(TSX Venture: NID), a leading developer of handheld spectroscopy based medical instruments, announced today that it has signed a combined feasibility study and first option agreement with one of the world’s largest consumer and hospital diagnostic companies.”
Looking through the company’s filings and public comments made by NIR up to toady, this is the first time they revealed that Lifescan is the company with whom they are working with. There are two possible reasons why Lifescan allowed NIR to make their collaboration public. One, is they are really onto to something and Lifescan wants to make their presence felt. Or two, NIR shares need a boost and an alliance with Lifescan should help increase investor interest.
The most interesting aspect of all is the reemergence of non-invasive glucose monitoring. Once considered the “Holy Grail” of glucose monitoring, non-invasive monitoring has seen little in terms of real world success. A hot topic in the late 90’s, interest in non-invasive waned as many promising projects failed and millions of dollars went down the tubes.
With the blood glucose monitoring market becoming increasingly competitive and the emergence of continuous glucose monitoring, non-invasive is making a return appearance as companies are looking for technologies that will separate themselves from the pack. The theory with non-invasive has always been that patients will test more frequently because they would no longer have to prick their fingers. A theory that should have been debunked when alternate site testing systems failed to increase average testing frequency. If we have learned anything over the past few years it is the reason most patients fail to check their glucose levels has little to do with the so-called pain factor and more to do with the inadequacy of patient education. Simply put since patients do not understand what the test results mean and there is no action step taken as a result of the test, patients have no compelling reason to test.
However, this fact has not stopped BGM companies and their continued belief that technology not education will get this market growing again. Until patients understand what the numbers mean and what action needs to be taken it won’t make one bit of difference how the test is performed.
We have been down this road before with non-invasive and as the old saying goes; “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”