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 There also seems to be a perception that, because It is no longer available in the US, Accu-Chek Combo been withdrawn globally.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!)

Throwback Thursday: Thinking About An Insulin Pump

Almost two years ago, I attended an insulin pump information evening. Today I’m looking back at that evening, and some of the reasons why I began thinking about pumping.

***

Last night, I attended an information session on insulin pumping.

I’ve been on Multiple Daily Injections since I was diagnosed five years ago. I’ve never seriously considered an insulin pump, and I can’t say that I know too much about them. I’ve thought about going to one of these information sessions over the years, but it was just one of those things that I never got around to. Okay, truth be told I procratinated on RSVPing to those events until it was too late. Over and over.

I guess what motivated me this year was the fact that I am now a part of the Diabetes Online Community. I think, talk and write about diabetes every day. I feel more motivated towards my diabetes managment, just from interacting with you. I see so many of you blogging, tweeting, screenshotting and instagramming pump stuff each day. I want to understand it. And I want to seriously consider it as an option going forward.

Representatives from a few of the insulin pump companies were there to chat to before and after the session. I’ve never seen such eager salespeople out there in full force, desperately wanting our business. When our fantastic host asked for some sample tubing to show us, it literally seemed like a race to see which rep could get to her first. As I asked one of the reps if a meal bolus was as simple as inputting the number of carbs into the device, she began hurriedly cramming in as much information as she could before the talk resumed. I’ve never seen anything like it.

The topic of Continuous Glucose Monitors came up briefly. As I have written in recent days, Continuous Glucose Monitors aren’t subsidised by the government here in Australia. The cost of purchasing a CGM device and its operating consumables is excessive. While having a CGM may not matter to myself, I know that it could make a world of difference to young children and parents out there.

I thought it was rather interesting to hear the representatives in the room quickly removing themselves of any responsibility for those excessive costs. They urged us to write to our Members of Parliament. They urged us to lobby the government for subsidies towards CGMs and diabetes devices. As though it’s out of their hands.

These companies are responsible for the excessive costs of these devices. I hardly got the feeling that these people genuinely wanted to help me make my diabetes management easier. I so badly wanted to know if they even had diabetes themselves!

***

Excuse ranty, 2015 Frank. In hindsight, that evening probably could have been designed a little bit better. The good news is that on Thursday October 12, Perth Diabetes Care will be hosting a tech evening, designed by people with diabetes. I’ll be speaking about my own journey with technology, all of the highs, lows and everything I wish I was told on that evening. If you’re in Perth I highly recommend you come along, have a play with the tech and meet other people with diabetes. Details below.