Who’s next in line?

One has to wonder who Medtronic will bring in to replace Fran now that she has resigned. Or perhaps we should rephrase that and state who will be willing to accept the position given all the issues the company is facing. Diabetes may be a big business, but it is also a small community and let’s face some facts all the people who are qualified for this position know each other.

Anyone approached by Medtronic will more than likely reach out to others before accepting the position. This should come as no surprise. To us that means Medtronic will have a choice to make; choose someone of stature or pay someone to do as their told while keeping their mouth shut. The choice they make will have repercussions and will signal what their true colors are.

Given what the company has done so far with previous hires our guess is they will hire someone from the B team. Someone who will gladly take the pay increase and upgrade in title. Someone who will follow whatever marching orders they are given.

Keep in mind that Fran wasn’t just CMO but carried the additional responsibility of handling all of the company’s clinical trials or put another way this is no small job. In essence this means understanding insulin pumps is half the battle, the other half requires dealing with FDA. Throw in the additional burden of dealing with the diabetes community and it’s easy understand the importance this job carries with it and the reason it should be filed by someone who like Fran is not just knowledgeable but well respected.

Think of what this person is walking into – the diabetes unit is facing two whistleblower lawsuits – an FDA investigation and issues with their primary product. They must successfully navigate some very treacherous waters while at the same keeping the senior management happy as well. Based on recent comments made by the company they will have the additional responsibility for getting their product pipeline in order too.

Unfortunately, they will have one more burden in they will have to deal with the all the corporate politics. This as they say comes with the territory at any major company, but the position of Chief Medical Officer should be immune or at minimum walled off from these politics. Let sales and marketing play their games but when it comes to patient safety leave the politics in the boardroom.

For years now, Medtronic has been slowly dismantling the great company that they acquired. Yes, times are different today but the values on which MiniMed was built have never gone away. Yes, there are new challenges a different competitive environment combined with a new FDA. However, in the end nothing has really changed as MiniMed became great not because they had the best product, MiniMed became great because above all else it was the patient who came first.

Is it any wonder that Dexcom now carries with it such an excellent reputation? That Terry Gregg before departing for a real retirement reassembled the team he built at MiniMed, the team that is now building Dexcom into the great company it is. A team that understands that rule one is put the patient first and rule two is to reread rule one.

Sadly, Medtronic has earned its nickname as the evil empire. Even sadder is the people who work there must endure the wrath of this reputation even though they did not create it. The employees had to follow orders or risk being shown the door. Each new management team wanted it done their way or it was the highway and this latest team is no different. Yet the newest team has taken this to new and very ugly level.

The saddest part of all and yes, we know this sounds redundant is there was no reason for any of this other than flat out greed.