Today, Sanofi-Aventis announced that it's getting into the glucose meter manufacturing business, by partnering with a small company known for highly accurate meter technology, AgaMatrix (makers of WaveSense products, based on a patented electrochemistry formula).
Reports say the new Sanofi-branded meters will be out later this year, and that this move is part of a larger strategy to help Sanofi offer a "full diabetes management solution" — beyond its insulins, Lantus and Apidra, and the pens it markets to deliver them.
I sure had a lot of questions, as I'm sure you all do! How will another new meter model compete? Will it offer anything special, like Bluetooth connectivity (a la the WaveSense Jazz)? Or a special no-pain lancing device? What about data downloading? Will AgaMatrix make a special version of its ZeroClick software?
The good news is that I was able to reach Sonny Vu, Co-Founder and Chairman of AgaMatrix, for comment. The bad news is that most of the detail of this deal is still under wraps. Here's what Sonny was legally able to tell me so far:
* Sanofi is "still finalizing their branding strategy" on the new meters, so the product name remains TBD
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* AgaMatrix will continue to manufacture and market its WaveSense products independently
* The new meters they build for Sanofi will be based on current WaveSense high-accuracy technology
* As far as special features, Sanofi "wants to take the world by surprise with what they roll out"
* Ease-of-use will be a high priority in development, and yes — that goes for the downloading software as well, "which could include ZeroClick"
On test strip pricing, Sonny had this to say: "We're very competitive due to our WaveSense technology, that allows for extremely precise testing and detecting in manufacturing. We can produce strips at a higher volume, and scrap less. That is, other companies often produce batches of strips that are 'almost according to spec, but not quite,' and then you cannot sell them."
On the recent FDA Hearings covering glucose meter accuracy: "We're loving it! We feel it's been a long time coming. The user deserves better accuracy. We're glad they're recognizing this need and prioritizing it for the industry and clinical environments, as well as for the end user."
"The thing that was surprising to me was the experts essentially saying, 'If you're not on insulin, you can use a less accurate meter.' Who wants to hear that from their doctor? ... People think more accurate means more expensive, but it doesn't have to be."
On current accuracy standards: "We came into this business thinking, 'Plus or minus 2o%? Are you kidding me? Let's shoot for five.' It's not easy, but that's what we've been working toward for the past seven years."
"We have several white papers done by third parties, validating that we have nearly twice the accuracy of the industry standard, which would be +/- 10%. I know for sure we hit +/-15% easily, and our goal is still +/-5%, so four times the current industry standard."
Congratulations to AgaMatrix on the Sanofi deal today. We anxiously await summer, to get more details on what the new meters (and Sanofi's whole 'solution') will look and feel like.