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Medtronic, with new device for insulin, hiring
October 12, 2013


A banner at the Medtronic Diabetes sales and patient service center in San Antonio heralds the rollout of a new insulin-pump device. More than 1,100 people are employed at Medtronic's San Antonio office. (Courtesy of Medtronic Inc.)

By David Hendricks, San Antonio Express-News

Minneapolis-based Medtronic Inc. has rolled out what it calls a breakthrough insulin-pump device, and the Medtronic sales and patient service center in San Antonio is the device's main sales-and-service outlet.

Called the MiniMed 530G with Enlite, the device is the first that qualifies to be classified as an artificial pancreas.

The device is noteworthy for diabetes patients needing insulin, applicable especially in San Antonio. The city's large Hispanic population means San Antonio has more than its share of diabetic patients.

The introduction of the device also is a factor as Medtronic moves toward its goal of 1,400 employees in San Antonio by 2015.

The Medtronic building at The Rim in San Antonio, opened in 2009, now employs more than 1,100 workers, which is on track for its employment target for this year, said Jeff Ruiz, senior director of customer service for Medtronic Diabetes.

"We are currently hiring in anticipation of the growth of the new product launch. However, this is not incremental to our employment projections previously stated, as it was always in our plan," Ruiz said in an email.

When Medtronic selected San Antonio in 2009 for its diabetes sales and service center, the company was granted about $14 million in city, county, CPS Energy and state incentives spread out as far as 10 years from 2009. The company agreed in contracts to hire at least 1,400 workers by 2015 while investing $23 million in capital improvements.

"While impossible to predict the future, we have met our employment milestones to date," Ruiz said. "Ultimately, our employment levels are based upon our business needs, and we are excited about the growth that the MiniMed 530G with Enlite product launch is expected to bring."

If the 1,400-employee goal is met, the company's annual payroll should reach $44 million a year, company executives said in 2009. Medtronic has concentrated on hiring recent college graduates for many of its positions.

Medtronic has emblazoned its building here with a huge banner announcing the new automated insulin device.

The device relies on a new Enlite sensor that the company says is smaller, more accurate and comfortable than earlier Enlite models. The sensor can be worn for six days. The device is meant to replicate the pancreas by monitoring glucose levels and automatically delivering appropriate insulin by needle to people with Type 1 diabetes.

Medtronic, in a news release, said it plans for future models to require little or no interaction by patients.

As a condition for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, Medtronic will conduct patient follow-up for possible manufacturing adjustments.

In San Antonio, Medtronic employees will be involved in promoting the device to medical providers and in helping patients adapt to the device. Patients can call the San Antonio office to resolve any problems.

In 2009, Medtronic divided its diabetes research-and-development and sales-and-service functions, which then totaled about 1,500 workers. The R&D function remained in North-ridge, Calif., and the sales-and-service operation moved to San Antonio.

Any city would like to say it helps people stay healthy. With Medtronic, San Antonio can make that claim.

 

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