Our View on Animas, Pump Choice and Innovation

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By Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D., Chief Mission Officer

Yesterday, Johnson & Johnson announced it will stop manufacturing and selling Animas insulin pumps and will work to shift the 90,000 people who use them over to Medtronic. This is bad news for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D). It also raises a host of issues that we at JDRF are working hard to address.

First, let’s look at the impact of Johnson & Johnson’s decision. People with T1D need the ability to choose the devices that work best for them. As a person with T1D, I know it’s extremely difficult to find a routine that helps me best manage my blood glucose levels, and a sudden change in device, insulin or other factors is not only frustrating but a health risk as we develop and adjust to a new routine. While business decisions might ignore the fact that our attachment to life-saving devices like insulin pumps can be very personal and directly affects how we manage our T1D, JDRF certainly will not forget. That’s why we have been pushing for more device choices from every angle we can: by supporting technology innovation, clearing regulatory hurdles and petitioning insurance companies to offer affordability and choice.

There’s no question that innovation and competition are essential to the development of next-generation therapies. JDRF is funding advances in new life-saving therapies through many companies and sources to encourage healthy competition and choice, and we’re working to ensure that as those technologies are developed, they get into the hands of people with T1D. No one is working harder for a cure, but until then, JDRF will continue to lead the push to improve health outcomes for people facing the daily burdens and dangers of this disease.

This announcement also raises questions about insurance coverage for those who will need to switch devices unexpectedly, a reminder that there are huge gaps created by our health system. It’s why JDRF is fighting for better access, affordability and coverage of T1D therapies to ensure you get what you need.

  • This includes our work to ensure insurance coverage of continuous glucose monitors and our current Coverage2Control campaign to ensure people have the freedom to choose the insulin pump that’s right for them.
  • It’s why we battle for more research funding every day and why we’re pressing hard to get Congress to renew the Special Diabetes Program.
  • And it’s precisely why we support the development of diverse, next-generation diabetes technologies — from established life sciences companies to newcomers in the space.

Finally, the Animas news raises the question about the viability of business for other companies in the diabetes space, something we remain very concerned about. While we cannot control all the factors in the marketplace, we’re working hard to support innovation and sustainable business models with funding, regulatory support, policy efforts and more. JDRF is committed to ensuring a diabetes marketplace where multiple companies can succeed and people with T1D have many affordable options to best help them manage their diabetes.

Clearly, our work is not done. We will continue to adapt and to act with urgency to ensure that everyone with T1D has the right treatment options, and we won’t ever stop fighting to bring about our vision of a world without T1D.

We look forward to your ideas and support as we continue this pursuit.