The walk of shame

As summer sets in and we get ready to wish America Happy Birthday this Saturday this promises to be a slow news week in our wacky world. Yet in our never-ending quest to find good copy and keep everyone amused we came across what we thought for sure would be great copy when the Medical Design & Outsourcing web site published their list of 20 medical device start ups you need to know.

Listen when it comes to way cool whiz bang the diabetes world is tops, or so we thought. Yes while the diabetes epidemic rages on everyone continues to be overly fascinated with the toys in the toy chest. Never mind that 99% of these toys haven’t done a damn thing to improve patient outcomes. Nope when it comes to way cool whiz bang toys diabetes is or perhaps we should say was numero uno.

So just how many diabetes toy companies made the list – zero, zilch, nada, none. Oh the shame. Not one way cool whiz bang toy was worthy. How could this be?

Yes we know that Bigfoot is not a start-up as they have been around since 2014 and have raised something like $150 million. And yes we also know that Bigfoot is best known not for coming up with way cool whiz bang toys but overpromising and underdelivering. But still they really should have made the list for their Unity connected cap cover which tells the patient they just injected. Now just why this is valuable information we haven’t quite figured out yet.

As someone who used to inject we can say empathically that we didn’t need a way cool whiz bang toy to tells us what we already knew, but what the heck after 6 years and $150 million Bigfoot finally delivered.

It also goes without saying that Abbott is no start up but the Libre2 should also be on this list. How this toy ever got an iCGM designation remains a mystery to the folks in diabetes toy land. Someday someone from the FDA will have to explain to us how when the toy cannot be used with any automated insulin dosing system it received an iCGM designation.

Believe it or not it could be worse as Medtronic continues to believe that patients want to calibrate a CGM with an old fashioned fingerstick. Of course this is the same company that didn’t want to invest an additional $300 million in diabetes R&D letting Blackstone fork over the capital instead.

One of the better toys we’ve ever seen are these systems which seem to think a user will whip out their smartphone, take a picture of their meal and then calculate the carbs. Yes we know that lots of people take pictures of their meals and for reasons we have never understood posted them on social media. Yet we can only imagine a couple on a romantic date getting ready to enjoy their meal when the guy says, “excuse me my love I have to calculate the carbs in this luscious meal so indulge me while I take a picture of this glorious steak instead of you my gorgeous date.” No walk of shame after that romantic moment.

Some may remember the Solo insulin pump from Medingo. Which in an attempt to lower cost made the Solo a semi-disposable pump. Way back in the day my wife and I sat down with the good folk from Medingo who demonstrated the system and how it needed to be assembled. Then with no prompting whatsoever Deb, god rest her sole, said “You have got to be kidding you really expect my husband to do all that every three days.”

We could go on as there are numerous examples of way cool whiz-bang worthless toys the diabetes landscape is littered with them. Yet here we are in 2020 and not one-way cool whiz bang toy in diabetes was deemed worthy of being in the Top 20. We are disappointed and expect each and every toy maker to make the dreaded walk of shame.