Diabetes needs Elon Musk’s way of thinking.
I find Elon Musk to be very inspiring. What I really respect is his interest in paradigm shifting concepts. If you are a tech freak, you probably read last week that Tesla is making their patents freely available for other companies to use. Elon recognizes that for Electric Vehicles to go mainstream there needs to be an ecosystem of compatible charging facilities and common standards. Tesla can’t do it alone, and the company can be stronger when EV is mainstream.
Let’s compare that to Glucose Meters, which have a multitude of models and expensive strips. This is particularly difficult for people in developing countries, who often receive incompatible products as donations.
Patents have their uses. If you spend years developing a product, you want to be able to recoup your investment, but patents have become a barrier to innovation and development of new products.
Kevin McMahon wrote me about his personal frustration with the patent wars in diabetes development.
“…. demonstrates how the patent situ is not designed to help patients. The Deltec Cozmo was the best pump and Smiths Medical (owner of Deltec) swiftly exited the insulin pump business shortly after Medtronic filed patent infringement lawsuits against Deltec. That was very sad and we lost an entire roadmap of innovation when that happened not to mention the fallout effect on other would be Medtronic competitors. Notice had been served and innovation was stifled.”
I read up on the case, and while it appears that Deltic might have had management issues as well, it appears that Medtronic went after a bunch of smaller companies as well, seeking licensing fees on their patents. Some of the patents seem rather obvious today. For anyone following the patent troll wars, this all sounds pretty familiar.
As we enter a new era of available tech, with the first non-invasive Glucose Meters coming to market, for example the Cnoga device, I wonder how manufactures can be thinking more like Elon about developing a patient-centered ecosystem. We need good affordable devices, not aggressive lawyers seeking to stifle innovation for profit.