J&J to shut Animas insulin pump unit, patients may switch to Medtronic pumps

Animas OneTouch Ping insulin system comprising meter remote and insulin pump
The Animas OneTouch Ping is one of two insulin pumps that Animas will stop manufacturing and distributing in the U.S. and Canada. (Animas)

Johnson & Johnson started the year by mulling “strategic options” for a trio of diabetes device businesses. Now, Animas is the first to be let go—the insulin pump unit is halting the manufacturing and sales of its products effective immediately.

The move comes after “extensive exploration of all viable other options” for the business, Animas said in a statement. These options included a joint venture, operating partnership, or a sale, J&J announced in January. Animas will continue selling its pumps outside the U.S. and Canada.

Animas is giving patients using its Vibe or OneTouch Ping pumps the option to switch to a Medtronic pump, and will continue to support patients through a transition period, according to the statement. However, the diabetes nonprofit JDRF voiced concern over competition and consumer choice.

“JDRF is extremely concerned that Animas Corporation will be closing operations and ending the sale of its insulin pumps, as it means fewer treatment options for people with type 1 diabetes. Pump choice is critical, and people with type 1 diabetes need the ability to choose the devices that work best for them. Innovation and competition are essential to the development of next-generation therapies,” JDRF said in a statement.

The other device units on the chopping block are LifeScan, which markets blood glucose monitors for hospital and consumer use, and Calibra Medical, which developed a mealtime insulin patch.

J&J’s diabetes device businesses slumped in 2016—in the fourth quarter, sales were down 3.8% from the same period a year prior, while full-year sales dropped 7.2%, from $1.9 billion to $1.8 billion.

In October 2016, Animas disclosed cybersecurity flaws in its wirelessly controlled OneTouch Ping pump that hackers could exploit to deliver unauthorized doses of insulin to patients. While this type of attack could result in insulin overdose and hypoglycemia, the company said the risk of attack was low and encouraged patients to keep using the device. It advised concerned patients to disable the wireless features of the device and enter their blood glucose readings manually.