Last week, medical device manufacturing company, Medtronic, and wearable tech company, Fitbit, announced plans to merge health and activity tracking for people with diabetes. By tracking activity levels and glucose levels together, patients and their doctors can get a better view of how exercise impacts their glucose levels. People with Type 2 diabetes won’t have to carry around sheets of paper, manually log their blood sugar levels, remember (or misremember) exercise details and outcomes. Anything that reduces pain—physical or mental—will be welcomed by those with diabetes. In our humble opinion, the migration from consumer activity monitoring to real healthcare is an enormous leap for consumer wearables.
Remember a couple of years ago when Sanofi partnered with MannKind because they believed Afrezza, MannKind’s inhaled insulin product, would capture diabetes patients who hate injections? And remember when Sanofi paid MannKind $150m up front and loaned them an additional $175m? Well, the sales didn’t materialize and Sanofi would like to pretend it never happened. So much so, in fact, they’re willing to forgive the balance of the loan—over $70m! I wonder if Sanofi needs a good news/blog writer? Then Sanofi could break up with the writer and then pay off the writer’s mortgage or something. Shares for MannKind were trading up at the time of this article. But then again, so would mine. Just sayin’.
Sanofi and Verily (Google Life Sciences) are the latest pharma/tech partnership in what’s being called the “Internet of Medical Things” (IoMT). Their joint venture, Onduo, will combine Sanofi’s experience in diabetes treatment with Verily’s reputation for consumer software, analytics, and miniature electronics. The IoMT market was $32.4 billion in 2015, but is projected to reach $163.2 billion by 2020. Other pharma/tech partnerships include: Pfizer and IBM teaming up to collect data from Parkinson’s patients, Novartis and Qualcomm collaborating on biometrics, and a host of other joint ventures related to smart pill bottles, smart inhalers, etc. The first Onduo products (TBD on specifics) are expected to launch in 2018.
Novo Nordisk is losing about 165,000 pounds to decrease its risk of Type II bad financials. That’s InsightCity’s estimate for the combined weight of the 1,000 people being let go from the company to remain competitive in the face of increasing competition in the diabetes market and pricing pressures in the U.S. Along with its slim-down in staff will come the trimming of its diabetes prospects in development, according to Chief Executive Officer Lars Rebien Soerensen. According to Soerensen, products without substantial innovation will be culled from the pipeline to maximize their candidates’ reimbursement potential. Remember, to reduce your risk of needing one of their new, innovative products, eat this. Not this.
When doctors tell you to take your medicine, eat well, and exercise, you should listen, right? Especially if you have a chronic illness like Type 2 Diabetes. Easier said than done, it seems. The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics has released a report showing that under 40% of Type 2 Diabetes patients globally achieve optimal levels of adherence and persistence. 4-15% of costs related to treating Type 2 Diabetes complications are associated with failure to properly follow medication and treatment regimens. In the US, these avoidable complications cost Medicare $4 billion every year. Ouch. Let’s all try listening to our doctors. Let’s lace up our sneakers and go find some Pokémon. Our bodies and wallets will be healthier for it.