Implications of the Animas Exit For Australia

In October, Animas signalled their intention to cease the manufacture and sale of their insulin pumps. While this news was initially limited to the US and Canadian markets only, the view was to eventually exit the market globally.

Yesterday, the news we had all been expecting was finally confirmed, with news that Animas had exited the market globally.

So what does this mean for Australia?

In the US, Animas referred their customers to Medtronic for the supply of consumables for in warranty pumps. Medtronic will continue to supply Animas consumables until September 30, 2019, after which consumers will need to make the switch to another brand of pump. Medtronic, Insulet (makers of the Omnipod tubeless pump), and Tandem (makers of the t-slim pump) have all provided options for Animas customers to make the switch prior to September 2019. More details about the US transition can be found here.

Australian distributor AMSL Diabetes has stated this will not be the case down under. AMSL will continue to supply pump consumables, replace in warranty pumps and provide 24/7 customer service, with further announcements to come. If you are thinking about starting on an Animas pump, there is apparently still some limited stock available.

Most importantly, there’s no need to panic. For the time being, nothing will change and in warranty pumps will still be serviced.

However with the manufacture of Animas pumps now ceased worldwide and limited new stock available, one has to wonder just how equipped AMSL will be to replace an in warranty pump at fault.

With a timeframe of September 2019 to cease the supply of consumables (albeit in the US), one would also be thinking that in-warranty customers will eventually need to be serviced by another brand of pump.

Will we be referred to Medtronic? Are AMSL hoping to acquire a new pump to distribute here in Australia? Will the manufacture of Animas consumables continue beyond September 2019 to service Australia? Time will tell.

My feeling is that someone starting on an Animas insulin pump today won’t be able to get a full four year’s use from it.

(And I’m feeling a little excited at the prospect of not having to wait until May 2020 to get that new pump feeling again).

AMSL’s announcement is here, and indicates that there are more developments to come.

Overnight, Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) have announced their intention to exit the insulin pump market globally. This follows an announcement in October last year that it was withdrawing from the US and Canadian markets. JNJ’s decision to close down its operations has been made for commercial reasons.

AMSL Diabetes will continue to provide the same high level of support our customers currently receive and customers will still receive a replacement if their pump develops a fault while under warranty. Warranty and replacement pumps, as well as consumables, will not be affected by this announcement.

Animas has also announced that in select countries it is working with a partner to transfer customers to another pump brand. Each market is being approached differently and in Australia, AMSL Diabetes will continue to work with Animas directly.

AMSL Diabetes have been proud partners of Animas for 15 years since launching the IR1000. We will continue to offer our leading 24/7 Australian-based customer service, technical support, and offer our full range of Dexcom CGM, Lifescan blood glucose meters, HypoPak fast acting glucose and accessory products.

For more information on how this announcement may affect you, please contact AMSL Diabetes on 1300 851 056 or email diabetes@amsl.com.au.

We will have more updates and information on these latest developments soon. Make sure you follow us on our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter) to stay updated.

A Close Second

Yesterday afternoon I laced up my white Nike trainers, stashed my FreeStyle Libre and Orange glucose tabs into my pockets and sat my headphones into my ears. I stepped outside into a breezy December afternoon, and started walking in the direction of the park down the road from me.

After a short stroll through the grass and the trees, I checked into my local Pharmacy, picked up the box of heavily subsidised supplies I’d ordered through the NDSS a few days earlier, and went on my merry way.

As I backtracked through the park, with the box on my side supported by my right arm, I couldn’t stop thinking about how attractive it all looked in there. The fresh boxes of supplies, all packaged neatly in a bigger box that was originally home to Morning Fresh dishwashing liquid. (Lemon scented, in case you were wondering…)

The comfort infusion sets with their manual insertion, that have helped to relieve my feelings of anxiety over every site change. The angled nature of those sets, that have helped to relieve the constant bruising and bleeding that the 90 degree ones would cause. The simplicity of their packaging, which minimises waste and makes travelling a hell of a lot easier.

The 2ml cartridges that hold my rapid acting insulin, the precious substance that fuels my existence each and every day. The magical liquid that enables my body to convert carbohydrates into energy every time that I eat. The special fluid that trickles into my body every three minutes to keep my blood glucose level, at a custom rate that’s only possible thanks to an insulin pump. The precious stuff that is only a doctor’s script, 36 dollars and a short walk down the road away.

The test strips that pair with my Accu Chek Guide blood glucose meter, and allow me to check in on my blood sugar level. Its Bluetooth abilities that seamlessly transfer blood glucose results to my smartphone with ease. Its sister smartphone app that allows me to review my stats without the hassle of cables and USB ports. The accompanying Lancing device that isn’t exactly ‘painless,’ but the one I’d want to be using if I absolutely have to be stabbing my fingers 15 times per day.

As I casually carried home this box of dishwashing liquid containing another two months of my life, I realised just how lucky I am to be able to trial and choose the products and devices that best suit my needs. How lucky I am that these expensive supplies are relatively cheap and accessible to me here in Australia.

If I can’t have a working pancreas for Christmas, then this sure does come a close second.

And if you’re thinking about those less fortunate this Christmas, consider a donation to T1 International, Spare a Rose or Insulin for Life

Finding Independence from Continuous Glucose Data

In my latest column over at Diabetes Daily, I’m talking about how I’ve arrived at a place where I don’t feel dependent on continuous glucose data to manage my diabetes.

“The FreeStyle Libre was my first foray into the world of continuous glucose data. After knowing nothing other than pricking my finger up to 15 times per day for six years, it was amazing to be able to check my blood sugar levels so conveniently. The small round sensor that sat on my upper arm provided me with a blood glucose reading, a trend arrow, and an 8-hour history graph each time I swiped my reader over it.

However, the data was addictive. Within the space of a few months, I felt heavily reliant on this device. When the life of my sensor came to an end, I really missed it. I felt lost, and even a little anxious about how I would cope without it. I had lost a great deal of confidence in my diabetes decision making.”

Check out the full column over at Diabetes Daily here.

Choice.

I was about to settle in front of the TV on Thursday night (which I’ve been doing a lot of lately hence the blog break), when Twitter exploded with the news of Animas discontinuing the sale of insulin pumps in the US and Canada. Customers with in-warranty pumps will be referred to Medtronic for consumables, before eventually having to choose a different brand of pump.

I knew that parent company Johnson and Johnson had been evaluating their insulin pump business for some time. I also knew that there weren’t really any exciting enhancements in the pipeline for the Animas Vibe, compared to some of the other insulin pump players in the market. Yet the news of Animas shutting up shop was still a real shock to the system.

So what does this mean for Australia? For the time being it’s business as normal, with the delivery of insulin pumps and consumables unaffected. AMSL Diabetes, distributor of the Animas Vibe insulin pump here in Australia, issued a brief statement via Facebook on Friday.

“Animas Corporation, a division of Johnson & Johnson, has announced overnight their plans to discontinue the manufacture and sale of the Animas Vibe insulin pump and exit out of the insulin pump business in the USA and Canada.

We feel that it is important that you understand that this does not affect your supply of consumables, technical support or after sales service. AMSL Diabetes is a distributor for Animas and we are continuing business as usual.”

The press release issued, however, indicates Johnson and Johnson’s intention to eventually exit the insulin pump business globally subject to consultation and timing.

When Animas does exit the market here in Australia, that leaves us with Cellnovo, Medtronic and Roche. Roche also ceased the sale of Accu Chek insulin pumps in the US earlier this year, triggering the following response from one of my contacts at Roche Diabetes Care Australia:

“I was shocked to see Animas’ announcement yesterday. Anything that reduces choice in insulin pump therapy for people is never positive.

Looking at peoples responses on social media I see that a lot of people think Medtronic and, to a lesser extent, Cellnovo are the only options left on the Australian market if Animas should ever exit here. There also seems to be a perception that, because It is no longer available in the US, Accu-Chek Combo been withdrawn globally. This perception is not accurate.

Accu-Chek Combo is manufactured in Europe and continues to be available for people with diabetes in many countries including Australia. Please be assured that Roche Diabetes Care is here to serve people needing insulin pump therapy both now and longer term both with our current tried and trusted Combo and with our exciting and innovative pipeline of products.”

While Animas have signalled their intent to (eventually) exit the insulin pump market globally, Roche have not signalled any intent of exit outside of the US. I hope, for the sake of choice, that they don’t.

I can’t say that I’ve ever felt super excited about my pump. I mean, it does it’s job. Quite nicely, I might add. However it wasn’t until I was wondering around the exhibition hall at ADS-ADEA last month that I began to appreciate why I use what I use. Looking at some of the other options on show that weren’t for me, really made me appreciate having a choice. 

I really, really don’t like seeing Medtronic eating up the market in the US, and I really do hope that the affected Animas and Roche customers will choose a replacement pump option that best suits their needs. One brand of pump should never be the only option for people with diabetes.

With Animas on the way out, Tandem’s t-slim Dexcom integrated touch screen pump would surely be a natural successor to the Vibe for Aussie distributor AMSL diabetes.

Let’s make it happen sometime before my current warranty expires in 2020…

(Choice!)