With friends like these…..

With friends like these…..

Back during the ADA conference in New Orleans Diabetic Investor reported that Lilly (NYSE: LLY) had decided to move in a different direction and not use the cloud enabled insulin pen from Companion Medical. This story resulted in some vehement denials from Lilly even though it was Lilly personal who gave Diabetic Investor the information. Well as it turns out the story is very true. Basically, Lilly is letting Companion twist in the wind even though they have a seat on the company’s board and Companion has received FDA approval for their device.

This is not the first-time Lilly has had “issues” with a diabetes partner. It’s well know that back in the day when they were “partnered” with Amylin it was a rather volatile relationship. As we noted the other day when Byetta came to market it was a less than perfect launch. A messy launch which resulted in lots of finger pointing and ultimately was the beginning of the end for this “partnership.”

Lilly isn’t the only major diabetes company to have relationship issues. We have well documented the problems that Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) has had with their “partners.” AgaMatrix, MannKind (NASDAQ: MNKD) and Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) have tried to be a good partner but as Momma Kliff used to say; “You can’t dance the tango by yourself.” This is the reason so many believe it’s not a question of if the latest diabetes partnership with Google will fail but when Google will become so frustrated that they too say Au Revoir.

Getting back to the Lilly/Companion situation this is somewhat of head scratcher. As Companions InPen device has received FDA approval and is ready to go. Even if Lilly wants to go in another direction in the future why not launch the InPen. Listen we know that like every other piece of hardware the InPen is basically a commodity. That it is not the only cloud enabled insulin pen. Even so the InPen is a rather elegant device, has FDA approval and sure is better than anything we’ve seen come out of Lilly.

The wild card here just might a sensor augmented insulin pen needle being developed by Becton Dickenson (NYSE: BDX). And yes, we said sensor augmented pen needle which would do what the InPen does. Now Diabetic Investor has not seen this needle just yet but if there is one thing BD knows better than anyone is needles. Let’s face it if BD can make this work it would be difficult for any of these smaller smart pen companies to compete even if they have a big-name partner. Just as Medtronic owns the insulin pump space, BD owns the needle and syringe space.

A few things should be becoming obvious when it comes to this wacky world not the least of which is when it comes to partnerships not all are created equal. That for any partnership to work it takes a healthy amount of give and take. That communication between the partners is essential. In the case of the Lilly/Companion partnership we suspect that lack of communication is a major problem. The reality is Lilly could care less they will continue to be a major player in the diabetes. The same however, cannot be said for Companion who we hope will find a partner who not only communicates but wants to dance.