Do Diabetes Tech Companies Really Care?

A few weeks ago, a post from Medtronic Diabetes Australia caught my attention on Facebook.

“We are asking the Australian Federal Government for a commitment of $4.4 Million this current financial year to potentially save 1,537 lives from the devastating consequences of type 1 diabetes.”

Medtronic’s lengthy article, which you can read here, was basically advocating for the Australian government to fund Continuous Glucose Monitoring. Something that I would very much like to see happen in the near future, evidenced here and here.

I have nothing against Medtronic. I’m sure that my rant would be equally applicable to every other diabetes tech company offering products and services to people with diabetes.

However, I just find this difficult to wrap my head around.

I get that Medtronic, along with every other diabetes tech company, is a business. I get that without companies like Medtronic, revolutionary technology like this would not be available to people with diabetes. I get that research, development, marketing, distribution and other operations cost money. A LOT of money. And then Medtronic is a business, and understandably wants to reap a nice reward for their efforts.

But still, Medtronic advocating for the consumer just doesn’t sit well with me.

I just don’t feel as though they would genuinely care, the same way that I do as I’m writing this post. I don’t feel as though they really care that, to quote Medtronic:

“People who are hypo unaware are six times more likely to have severe hypoglycaemia leading to seizures, coma and even death. Having hypos leads to more hypos and the increased risk of these severe events.”

It just seems as though it’s in their best interests to advocate. It seems as though they have something to gain from their advocacy efforts.

First up, it makes them look as though they are on the customer’s side. It makes them look like they care, lobbying the government for funding towards a life saving device. Big tick for Corporate Social Responsibility there.

Second up, if their advocacy is successful in obtaining government funding, Medtronic has everything to gain. Business! More people will adopt Continuous Glucose Monitoring devices because they are cheaper to run. More people will purchase the consumables in order to continue running the device. And since diabetes isn’t going away anytime soon, there’s a good chance that the customer will keep purchasing the consumables. Triple win!

I hold nothing against Medtronic for running a business. A business that, from what I hear, makes the daily management of type 1 diabetes much easier. A business that, should I choose to in the future, could make my own diabetes management much simpler.

But Medtronic does not have diabetes. Medtronic does not go to bed feeling defeated from a day of highs. Medtronic does not wake up in the middle of the night, sweating from an intense low. Medtronic does not feel the impact of dealing with a chronic condition day in, day out.

That’s why advocacy from a company with a financial interest in diabetes will never sit well with me.

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