This could only happen in the diabetes device world

This could only happen in the diabetes device world

As Diabetic Investor reported over the weekend Bayer has replaced LifeScan as Medtronic’s (NYSE:MDT) partner. According to a press release issued by Medtronic; “Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE: MDT) and Bayer HealthCare have expanded their international alliance to now include the United States and will work exclusively to develop innovative next generation diabetes management solutions for patients, state-of-the-art, wireless blood glucose meters worldwide.”

The release further states; “Our goal is to improve patient outcomes while delivering an exceptional customer experience,” said Katie Szyman, president of the Diabetes business and senior vice president at Medtronic. “We are excited to work with Bayer to develop and deliver future integrated solutions that are even smaller and easier to use, with accuracy that surpasses today’s standards in diabetes management.”

Not to be outdone LifeScan also issued a press release today which stated: “Going forward, LifeScan and Animas, both members of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Diabetes Companies, will expand their existing collaboration and joint product development programs to deliver integrated products, tools and services for insulin patients.  The companies co-developed the current OneTouch® Ping® System, the first full-feature insulin pump that wirelessly communicates with blood glucose meter-remote.  Using the OneTouch Ping meter-remote, a person can calculate insulin doses and opt to wirelessly instruct the pump to deliver them without touching the pump at all, giving patients more freedom and flexibility in using their insulin pump.

“Through our continued work with Animas we hope to further empower patients to more easily and effectively manage their glucose levels while easing the burden of patient education on healthcare providers,” said Mr. Paul.

Imagine that LifeScan and Animas, two companies owned by Johnson and Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), both diabetes device companies want to work together.  Given this earthshattering announcement that two companies both owned by the same parent company and both in the same space want to work together Diabetic Investor wonders what will come next, perhaps just maybe they will realize that if they have any chance at all at taking share away from Medtronic that it just might be better to develop integrated products that actually work.

The reality here is that this is really much to do about nothing. While everyone is doing their best to put a positive spin on these announcements as always the behind the scenes information is more telling. The fact is LifeScan and Medtronic were never very good partners and that it was LifeScan who wanted out of this relationship. One has to wonder how the folks at Animas must have felt when their sister company opted to allocate more resources to their major competitor rather than help them take share away from this competitor. The conversation must have just as interesting at Medtronic headquarters as the agreement was putting money into the pockets of their primary competitor.

As it turned out this much ballyhooed partnership between heavyweights in diabetes devices lasted about as long as a Charlie Sheen marriage.

While this is semi-good news for Bayer, who is in desperate need of good news given the way things are going in glucose monitoring, they must in some respects feel like the ugly sister who only gets to marry the prince because the princess decided to opt out this very strange marriage. As we noted over the weekend, Medtronic is aggressively promoting their Revel™ system which combines their Paradigm insulin pump with their continuous glucose monitor. The fact is Medtronic sees systems such as the Revel as the future and will have little reason to promote the new Bayer system. This is especially true when you consider the fact Medtronic makes more money selling the Revel than it does the Bayer system.

Still Diabetic Investor finds this whole situation amusing and just proves that real life is stranger than fiction. Only in the wacky world of diabetes devices would a market leader do a deal that would put money in the pockets of their primary competitor. Only in the wacky world of diabetes devices would two diabetes device companies both owned by the same parent company finally decide that working together, rather than apart, is a good thing. Only in the wacky world of diabetes devices would the once jilted lover feel grateful to now become the bride after the original marriage broke up because the original parties could not play nicely together.

Frankly Diabetic Investor thinks it’s time to start a reality based television show called the wacky world of diabetes devices. The honest truth is you just can’t make this stuff up.