All disclosures out of the way first:  You guys know I have a professional relationship with Animas, as they have been a partner of mine since 2010, details outlined here.  Bias lens firmly in place?  Continue on.

Today I have a Q&A with John Wilson, the new VP of Insulin Delivery at Johnson & Johnson about Asante closing, the Animas connection, and an option for patients who have been left a little in the lurch.  

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Kerri:  John, thanks for talking with me today.  Could you give a little background on who you are and what’s your diabetes connection?

John Wilson:  I’ve been in the healthcare industry my entire professional life, most recently working in oncology pharmaceuticals. In order to be successful, I need to have passion for what I do, and the diabetes space is easy for me to get my emotional arms around because I have a family connection.  Let’s face it, we all know people living with diabetes, and it’s very clearly an area of high unmet need.  I’m now leading the insulin delivery platform, focusing on Animas and Calibra products.  I work alongside my partners in the blood glucose monitoring platform – also known as Lifescan – and collectively, we are Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Solutions Companies.

Kerri:  Asante Snap users were thrown for a loop last week when the company announced it was closing its doors.  How is Animas planning to help take care of those customers who were left high and dry?

John Wilson:  This announcement caught everyone off guard, and I have empathy for both sides of it.  I know some of the people at Asante and that they care about the individuals in this community and are dedicated to this space, and I know pump users had to react suddenly to this news.  I was grateful that they [Asante] reached out to us to see if we could help.

Kerri:  So how is Animas helping these folks?

John Wilson:  First, we assembled a call-in line for Asante patients with specially trained Animas folks to triage their calls.  That number is 1-877-937-7867 X1562.  From a HIPPA compliance perspective, we couldn’t reach out to Asante users, so we had to wait for them to reach out to us, and we wanted to be ready to help.

The offer is pretty simple:  We are offering the choice of two pumps – the Animas Vibe with the integrated Dexcom G4 technology and the Animas One Touch Ping, and for patients under 18 we are offering the One Touch Ping.  It’s a net cost of $99 for the patient, with an upfront of $799 which, upon receipt of the Asante pump, we will credit back $700.  The Animas pumps are brand new [not refurbished] and we will honor balance of the warranty of their Asante pump.  This offer is available until July 17th.

Kerri:  How will Animas handle things like insurance for people who are transitioning?

John Wilson:  We know this need is immediate, and given the number of insurers, in order to determine whether or not they would cover it, it would take too long for the patient to be back up and running.  This is why we decided to address the immediate need with the $99 cost to the patient.

Kerri:  Customer service means so much to people who are living with diabetes, as our lives depend on receiving our supplies and medications in a timely manner.  This is big deal.  How does Animas plan to handle their existing customer base while helping the incoming PWD?

John Wilson: My team is focused on streamlining processes and improving the customer experience, and we have invested in this area.  It’s critical that we get this right.  We want to reduce the amount of time that people remain on hold, we want to call people right back and make the process as seamless as possible.  I recognize we have had misses in the past, but I’m committed to removing obstacles in order to make this process better.

I think it’s always best to operate transparently.  If I fall short of your expectations, I should acknowledge that.   My hope is that we can ultimately exceed everyone’s expectations.

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So here’s the fine print:  There aren’t any returns, exchanges, or upgrades in this offer.  To start the process of receiving a replacement Animas Insulin Pump, they are asking that any Asante Snap pump patients to call toll free 1-877-937-7867 X1562.  Their Customer Care Representatives are available to help people out Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM EST.  Here’s a link to all the stuff.

It’s also important – and exciting! – to note that the Asante technology is not lost and gone forever.  Last week, Bigfoot Biomedical purchased all of Asante’s pump resources, with plans to pair the pump with Bigfoot Biomedical’s artificial pancreas components.  Way more details are in the diaTribe article, if you’d like to read up.  Also, Animas is just one of the pump companies who are stepping up to meet the needs of the Asante users.  Tandem has their offer outlined here and Medtronic details are here.

Updated:  Diabetes Mine has a great interview with Bigfoot Biomedical’s Jeffrey Brewer up today!

Man, this post keeps going.  I’m going to stop it now, but not without adding this awesome .gif (courtesy of The Space Cupcake):

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