Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The North and The South

For years, those of us living with diabetes in Canada have looked to the south and drooled.  Because of the much, much larger market share, the US gets all of the "good stuff" long before it comes to Canada. In fact it took us so long to get the Navigator, that they stopped making it before the product ever crossed the border!

Our American cousins have had the DexCom for years giving them a choice when it comes to CGM technology.  They had OmniPods before us and now will be looking at yet another pump choice in the Tandem TSlim in the coming months. We got the Medtronic Veo pump that they want first but that seems to be where our advantage ends. 

In talking with a friend recently, we also noted that there seems to be a big difference in attitude between US pharmaceutical companies and those working in Canada.  In the past two years with  Roche Summitt and Lilly Diabetes having their own Blogger Summitt in 2012, these companies have invited people living with diabetes to get together with pharmacy and discuss technology, needs, and direction.  This was a huge thing in the diabetes world--big companies wanting to know what patients want? Sadly, despite the increased number of diabetes diagnosis in Canada, we are not seeing the same sort of engagement here. 

Don't get me wrong, some companies in Canada do reach out to the consumer.  Animas just did a great PR event in May showcasing people with diabetes across the country.  Roche invited bloggers and their readers to get engaged and give away free cash in the spring. Despite that, there still seems to be a feeling of isolation and we just don't matter. 

As my friend noted, "A few years ago, we would get a newsletter or an invite to a workshop, special speaker, etc two or three times per year.  Now...nothing." She is not alone in this.  Are the major players that intimidating and confident that they do not feel that they need to engage the market? Do the other littler known players not have the budgets to do it at all? It makes you wonder and personally, it makes me sad. 

Not only are we not getting to do the "fun stuff", not only are we not getting access to the best technology, we are also forgetting about the other players on the board.  If you ask Canadians what pump companies are out there, they will most likely say Medtronic.  Some will know Animas but then things get fuzzy.  They may know that OmniPods are now available north of the border but chances are that they have completely forgotten that Roche even makes a pump.  This makes me sad because it is so important for consumers to make an educated choice in their diabetes care. They can't do that if they don't know that the products exist. 

I wonder how many people realize the vast choices in glucometers or that they have a choice of infusion sets or rapid acting insulin? Again, it  makes me sad and leads to me ask, is it really all about the money? Does our Canadian perspective and the needs of those of us in the northern part of the western hemisphere not count for as much? Is it bureaucracy? Does the Canadian government and various legislations make it difficult for pharmaceutical companies to be as engaged as their American counterparts? I wish I knew the answers. Some days I think it would just be better to move south...  


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