Saturday 7 October 2017

The deal with Animas (UK)

I have not blogged since January this year.  In all honesty, I hadn't known whether my blogging would continue given that juggling household shift patterns around childcare, an abandoned allotment and a forgotten sewing hobby had all left me feeling as though I simply no longer had the words.  When I did log on to social media the arguments, snarky comments and age-old conversations seemed to be coming up.  It felt as though there was precious little 'new' to even deal with, and the 'old' left me feeling as though I'd already spoken about that and simply didn't want to keep repeating myself with so much else amiss in my world.  The DOC felt to me as though I was no longer a member. 

But then something changed which threw me back into the DOC at full force.

Two days ago, a friend posted on Facebook about Animas in the US and Canada 'closing down and leaving the insulin pump market'.  The article, seemingly from a reputable source and using all the correct language and knowledge of diabetes insulin pump supply, claimed this was happening with almost immediate effect in the US and Canada, and the rest of the world would follow.

What.  The.  Actual.

As a member of the Animas Heroes, and (devoted) Animas customer, I was shocked and so, so saddened to read this, but had also initially missed the bit about the rest of the world.  What do you mean, you are exiting the pump market, with my product?!

I emailed one of the marketing guys at Animas and asked what impact this would have on the UK.  Within an hour, a conference call was scheduled, and the cold facts were dawning on me. 

As I listened on the call to the horrible news, I realised just how much the world will miss Animas. How much I will miss Animas.  For me, they were the leaders in patient engagement, and where other companies only seemed to want to engage with the DOC when they have a product they want advertised, Animas seemed to want more.  They wanted to truly converse with their customers; they wanted to make a difference.

Animas made it clear that as far as the UK goes, it is business as usual; they will be in place for the foreseeable, due to the way in which businesses have to be closed in Europe.  There is no immediate commute over to a competitor, and new customers are still being taken on, but with an honest disclosure about what the future looks like.  While business has been successful in the UK, the picture worldwide has not been so, and in an incredibly competitive market, it simply came to an end.  Which sucks.  It really, really sucks.  The Sports Weekend is, of course, to still go ahead.  And as a J&J weekend as opposed to an Animas one, we hope there will be more.

I was always a little of an odd one out amongst the Heroes.  Some are champions in their sport, some have run unimagineable marathons, and some are insanely Grumpy (in all the best kind of ways).  I was the one who'd struggled with weight and through my journey using sports and exercise to try and tackle those issues, had also discovered deep-rooted issues with food and dieting.  But rather than end my contract there when things got complicated, Animas - and my family in the heroes - carried on just accepting that my daily challenge was just a different kind of challenge to the others. When the end comes, and end it shall, I will leave knowing I was on the team with a group of people, a company, even, who had all their priorities in the right place. 

Any time a treatment option is taken off the table it is a sad day.  But for it to be a company as well-established and market-leading as Animas, is simply devastating.

I will miss those people sorely.

It's sad that words came back to me because something so dear was being taken away.  And yet the last two days the DOC, for me, has been a different place.  It has been a place were people are asking for advice, answers, and support. What a shame that Animas had to be the catalyst for my DOC of old to return.

How do you feel about the news that Animas will eventually close up shop?


  1. My son uses Animas and we live in UK. I feel J&J are just the same as many other greedy parent companies - making a profit in medical devices is not enough - it has to be a really fat profit or they pull out. That need for a fat profit has helped to limit the proportion of UK T1Ds who even had access to a pump in the first place. Many wait years, some more than a decade and kids are threatened over non compliance. Maybe we should want these companies to be leaner, not to expect them to run sports days or sponsor stands at conferences or sponsor teams. These costs are used against us. As for Animas I was frustrated that they couldnt get their HHM technology to market. I think my son is simply a cashcow for companies like Novo and J&J and they dont lose a moment of sleep over the people who rely on them.

    1. Very good points but the companies who don't attend conferences and market to HCPs or patients are never likely to gain much business.

    2. Hi Al, I definitely agree about profit. It's a shame that profit always has to be the biggest measure of success. But I have seen first hand what benefit the sports weekend has. I used to have days in the gym where I would come home at 20 mmol or collapse in a heap at 2 and had to spend an hour in the cafe waiting to e able to drive again. Having a pump is great, but having the knowledge and skills to use it is invaluable. I'm not sure the sports weekend which is a drop in the ocean compared to what the company need/want to make (don't forget it was only one weekend a year) made a difference to the ultimate decisions being made. I also agree with Kev that that they need to be seen to be known about.
      I'm so sorry that you too feel so frustrated. I completely understand.

  2. The DOC hasn't changed, the people have changed, the older ones have moved on, many new engaged ones have joined but you probably just don't follow them. The tweetchats have a renewed energy. It's just that one person's constant inappropriate behaviour have focused chats, but beyond that the DOC is the same, if not greater.
    Regarding the UK deal I take it existing customers will have no trouble getting supplies and support. Do they think they'll be around in 4 years, cos if not I can't imagine a hospital would sign a new pump contract with them.

    1. I'm not sure if it will be four years. I imagine once a company deems a product non-profitable the business has to be closed as soon as possible. It so sad. In a world where D tech is really exciting, seeing a staple product such as the Vibe disappear is a big deal.

      Good to hear about the DOC. I think my immense burnout after a baby, followed by what seemed like the same conversations ending in the same arguments, over and over, was too much for me. It felt like there were better ways to spend energy. I'm glad that the last few days has proved that passion, and compassion, still exists.

  3. It's lovely that you are back blogging Anna. A baby will keep you busy, and the best of use of your time and energy. It is a shame about Animas. But there is more choice coming, eventually (does seem to take forever though).

    1. Hi Sue, many thanks. It feels good to be dipping back in again. I'm excited about the new rumoured products. It will take me some time to adjust to my beloved pump reaching its end, but it will be positive when new pumps hit the market. Hope to catch you at an event or two, very soon x

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