The announcement does not affect LifeScan, which makes blood glucose management tools and apps. Company officials said an exclusivity deal between Medtronic and UnitedHealthcare was among the factors that contributed to the decision.
Animas Corporation, part of Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care, will stop making insulin pumps amid competitive pressures and emerging technology trends, the company has announced.
“We are incredibly grateful to our patients and healthcare partners for the trust confidence and loyalty they have placed in Animas products over the last 12 years,” said Valerie Asbury, Animas general manager, in a statement released late Thursday. “With rapidly changing needs of customers, rapidly evolving market dynamics, and increased competitive pressures, it proved too difficult to sustain the insulin pump business and we decided to pursue and exit of the business.”
Animas will cease the sale of its Vibe and OneTouch Ping pumps in the United States and Canada, but it will honor warranties. Thus, a patient who needs a replacement pump will be able to get one, said Bridget Kimmel, senior manager for communications and public affairs for Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Solutions, in an interview with The American Journal of Managed Care®. Decisions about the exit in other countries requires consultation with work councils, she said.
Kimmel said the majority of Amimas’ 90,000 pump users are within the 4-year warranty period, and most will be within warranty through September 30, 2019.
As reported last month in Evidence-Based Diabetes Management™, the insulin pump market faces multiple pressures. First, an exclusivity agreement between market leader Medtronic and the nation’s largest payer, UnitedHealthcare, was seen by analysts as a threat to at least 1 of the smaller players in the market. Kimmel said the Medtronic exclusivity agreement with UnitedHealthcare was among many factors that contributed to Thursday’s announcement.
Second, emerging technology such as smart insulin pens and smaller sensors, will pair with smarter apps to allow most of the heavy lifting to be done by a patient’s smartphone. This could make traditional insulin pumps obsolete. A senior official from Dexcom, which makes popular continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems, said recently this is a key reason why his company doesn’t want to be in the pump business.
Nonetheless, Dexcom had a relationship with Animas, which received FDA approval less than a year ago for its Vibe pump to integrate with Dexcom’s G5. Back in 2010, Animas announced a major initiative with JDRF, formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, to work with Dexcom on artificial pancreas technology. JDRF has decried payer exclusivity deals, saying they would lead to a loss of patient choice. The group released a statement, which read in part:
“JDRF is extremely concerned that Animas Corporation will be closing operations and ending the sale of its insulin pumps, as it means fewer treatment options for people with type 1 diabetes,” the statement said. “Pump choice is critical, and people with type 1 diabetes need the ability to choose the devices that work best for them. Innovation and competition are essential to the development of next-generation therapies, and until there’s a cure, JDRF will continue to drive efforts that will improve health outcomes for people facing the daily burdens and dangers of this disease.”
Earlier this year, Roche left the market and turned its patients over to Medtronic, and yesterday Animas announced a similar arrangement. “Patients using an Animas insulin pump will be offered the option to transfer to a Medtronic pump,” the statement said.
Johnson & Johnson had announced in January it was considering a sale of all its diabetes businesses, which include Animas and LifeScan, which makes blood glucose monitoring systems and a disease management app. Disease management tools are making their way into larger shares of the population with type 2 diabetes (T2D), which in the United states accounts for all but 1.25 million of the 30.3 million people who have the disease.
While the statement said, “Johnson & Johnson is continuing to evaluate potential strategic options for LifeScan, Inc.,” Kimmel said Friday that for now, it’s “business as usual” for the company.
LifeScan, which has a partnership with WellDoc, creator the BlueStar technology to provide 24/7 coaching for people with T2D. Also, LifeScan is moving ahead with plans to expand its OneTouch Reveal app across several countries, including India, through the end of 2017, and to promote data-sharing relationships with physicians and managed care companies. Kimmel said a new population health venture with ExpressScripts is up and running.