After working together on connected diabetes solutions for the past six years, Abbott and Bigfoot Biomedical have decided to take the relationship to the next level.
Abbott has agreed to acquire Bigfoot. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter, but financial terms were not disclosed.
"The acquisition of Bigfoot Biomedical will combine two leaders in different aspects of diabetes care: continuous glucose monitoring and insulin dosing support," said Jared Watkin, senior VP of Abbott's diabetes care business. "Bringing our companies together will allow us to further develop connected solutions for making diabetes management even more personal and precise."
Bigfoot Biomedical is a company that MD+DI readers should be quite familiar with by now. In 2017, the diabetes company was selected as the readers' choice for Medtech Company of the Year. The Milpitas, CA-based company developed the Bigfoot Unity, a smart insulin management system that features the first FDA-cleared connected insulin pen caps that use integrated continuous glucose monitoring (iCGM) data along with healthcare provider instructions to provide insulin dosing recommendations. The dosing recommendations are displayed on the pen cap's digital screen to help people know how much insulin to take.
Bigfoot tapped Abbott as its iCGM partner in July 2017, a move that was considered a huge win for Abbott and a disappointing loss for Dexcom. That partnership was announced just two months before FDA approved Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre Flash glucose monitoring system as a replacement for blood glucose monitoring for adults.
"Bigfoot Biomedical is the first company to design, develop, and deliver a novel insulin delivery solution built around continuous glucose monitoring," said Bigfoot CEO Jeffrey Brewer. "We selected Abbott as our CGM partner because both companies share a vision to provide simple, affordable, and easy-to-use tools for people with diabetes. We look forward to continuing to innovate together and to the scale Abbott can provide, bringing Bigfoot Unity to as many people who may benefit."
Today, the Bigfoot Unity system exclusively works with Abbott's FreeStyle Libre technology and includes a customer smartphone app connected to a cloud-based online portal used by healthcare providers to support their patients, including through remote care. The system works with FreeStyle Libre 2 sensors and all major brands of both long-acting (basal) and rapid-acting (bolus) disposable insulin pens offered in the United States. The system is indicated for use by people 12 years and older with diabetes who need multiple daily insulin injections.
Given the existing long-term relationship between Abbott and Bigfoot, medtech analysts were not surprised by the acquisition announcement, which hit the wires after market close Tuesday.
"While financial terms were not disclosed, we view the strategic tuck-in favorably, as it fits the same call points and could accelerate adoption for the Unity system for patients using multiple daily injections (MDI) to manage their diabetes," Marie Thibault, a medtech analyst at BTIG, wrote in a report issued Tuesday evening.
Thibault noted that Bigfoot is still in the early phases of its commercial rollout, but the company has started to win contracts with pharmacy benefit managers, insurance providers, and group purchasing organizations that expanded the number of covered lives. She said this activity was supported by recent real-world studies presented at the American Diabetes Association conference earlier this year that showed improved glycemic control in patients using Bigfoot Unity.
"If reimbursement is more widely established in the U.S., the integrated ecosystem could drive some share shift from competitive systems toward Libre among those on MDI interested in smart pens," Thibault wrote. "We acknowledge GLP-1s remain a long-term risk for the diabetes tech space, but continue to see a role for CGMs and insulin pens. We see this acquisition as a vote of confidence from [Abbott] in the future need for insulin."
The analyst pointed out that Bigfoot has also been working on a closed-loop automated insulin delivery (AID) pump, which previously received a breakthrough device designation from FDA. Also, in February, Insulet paid $25 million to acquire patent assets from Bigfoot related to pump-based AID capabilities, she added.
The acquisition announcement also comes at a time when the automated insulin delivery market is seeing a lot of interest and activity. Beta Bionics recently raised $100 million in a series D round, and Medtronic's diabetes business is seeing a long-awaited turnaround, driven largely by demand for the company's MiniMed 780G, which FDA approved in April.