Is Medtronic violating Antitrust laws?


(brighter1085293) #1

Medtronic has been the largest maker of insulin pumps since acquiring MiniMed in 2001. Medtronic is the dominant brand in the market and many doctors will only prescribe a Medtronic pump, both because they know nothing about alternatives and because Medtronic has long provided free labor to physicians. Medtronic has also litigated competitors to exit the market (Smith’s Medical), and taken over former competitors Animas and Roche pump businesses. With UnitedHealth’s 2016 exclusive arrangement with Medtronic, the largest healthcare company in the world (by revenues) has effectively determined that its customers have only one choice for an insulin pump: Medtronic.

In the United States, the definition of antitrust behavior is to stifle fair competition for the benefit of consumers.

Will technology innovation for treating T1D be slowed because patients choice in closed loop insulin pumps is stifled by Medtronic? If Tandem or OmniPod can’t sell their competing products due to the UnitedHealth/Medtronic arrangement, how do T1D patients benefit by lack of choice?

What do you think?


(joe) #2

I think I have a bigger problem with profit based insurance, and lawyers, than I do with manufacturing, but it’s because i am biased, and both “like”, and understand manufacturing.

From the setup I am guessing that you’d like to see United Health cover Tandem? Have you tried the appeal route?

Technically, isn’t a Tandem pump “available” but more expensive? Has anyone tried a direct sale approach, maybe with financing from Tandem?

I can’t imagine what a antitrust litigation would cost, which company it would be directed at, or what it would take to endure, and I couldn’t guess on the outcome or if that outcome would help us diabetics or not, sorry.


(brighter1085293) #3

The FTC is the government entity that would lead the enforcement against Medtronic.

My concern is not with an individual company, but with having a CHOICE. I don’t currently have UHC insurance, but I am concerned that I may with a future employer.

It’s very expensive to survive with T1D and less competition means fewer choices and continued high costs.

I also understand manufacturing and supply chain. Medtronic’s arrangement might fit this description: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/competition-guidance/guide-antitrust-laws/single-firm-conduct/exclusive-supply-or


(Sal) #4

I can’t answer this specific question as I am not an antitrust law expert, but here are some things to consider:

Johnson & Johnson was losing money on their Animas pump department. Despite what people would have you believe about the “evil big-pharma”, they don’t always take home a pile of gold and bathe in it like Scrooge McDuck. J&J was losing money, so they cut it loose.

Tandem is still not profitable (meaning they still lose money, though they lost less this year than last year which is a good sign).

Medtronic striking a deal with United Healthcare can benefit United Healthcare customers who want Medtronic pumps. A deal usually has two sides, and usually means that United Healthcare gets the pumps from Medtronic for far less money.


(brighter1085293) #5

WHY did J&J lose money on Animas? Was it because Medtronic engaged in anti-competitive behaviors like the the UHC deal? Did losing access to 50 million Americans have anything to do with losing money?

When new insulin pump makers can’t sell to large populations, doesn’t that make it more difficult for them to turn a profit?

Do UHC members win or lose from having no choice of insulin pumps?

Especially if a competitor has better performance?


(nicky81) #6

I so agree Medtronic took over way too quickly and the Medtronic is not that great unless u live same boring daily life. When it was time for my animas to expire my doctors only pushed Medtronic and I hate it I think the FDA jumped the gun releasing it and not enough people participated in the study of it. I think there needs be more choices ecspecially for younger children…someone please bring back my animas


(Joy) #7

This year, United Healthcare’s Medicare Part D insurance will cover the Omnipod pump. Not cheap—$77 monthly premium and most likely a tier 3 or 4 co-pay. But they will cover it . If you call them, you’ll probably have to push the rep to look it up because most of them don’t seem to know that the Omnipod is now covered. You can call the Meicare dept of Omnipod to confirm this.

Also, SilverScript insurance will cover the pod with an exception from your doc. Expensive at tier 4 coverage, but the monthly premium is only about $30.