Last week, diabetes industry analyst David Kliff sent out an update to his subscribers claiming that Abbott Diabetes will soon be dropping the Navigator Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. Instead, Kliff says they'll be entering the insulin pump market with a new product called the Aviator -- the pump that they originally intended to pair with the Navigator.
A parent over at ChildrenWithDiabetes has posted the update in full, so you can read the details for yourself. I'm trying to confirm directly with Abbott, but have been waylaid a little by my travels last week and the intervening weekend.
What struck me, though, was that I too had a copy of Abbott's latest letter to Navigator users waiting in my pile of mail when I returned home Thursday night.
I was quite surprised to read a letter indicating that the product may have a serious flaw (water is hard to avoid):
"It has come to our attention that Freestyle Navigator transmitters could potentially exhibit a fracture on the plastic housing near the battery compartment. Should this occur, there is a possibility that moisture may enter into the transmitter.
If moisture has not entered the transmitter, the transmitter will continue to function normally even with a fracture in the plastic housing. You may continue to use your Navigator under normal conditions such as showering.
However, if moisture enters the transmitter, it may cause the transmitter and the receiver to lose connection, interrupting cont. glucose results. Although unlikely, moisture entering the transmitter has the potential to generate inaccurate results only with the continuous glucose readings."
Kliff has this to say:
"The decision to dramatically scale back Navigator sales is hardly shocking given the unit's dismal performance. Once the most anticipated continuous glucose monitoring system, Navigator has been a colossal disaster every since the day when Abbott foolishly sought a replacement indication from the FDA rather than an approval as an adjunct device, like everyone else in CGM did...
Even worse, once on the market, the product performed poorly as patients complained about numerous sensor failures and the devices 10-hour calibration period.
The fact is Navigator is a classic example of a product that was designed by engineers who lacked real-world market experience."
That's some pretty harsh criticism, but Kliff is known for being outspoken. As noted, I'm working to get ahold of some decision-makers at Abbott to hear their side of the story. Updates TBD. Meanwhile, what do you all think? Navigator Users: have you been happy or frustrated with the product??