Medela 57038 being phased outMedela has responded to our article that broke the news that the company is dropping a low-end breast pump sold via insurance that prompted complaints and concerns.

Medela asked that we correct the article with the following statements. Here are Medela’s points with our comments:

“Medela is quietly phasing out the Personal Double pump (model 57038) which features single phase technology.”
The phase-out of the 57038 Personal Double breast pump has in no way differed from Medela’s other product phase-outs, and is not being hidden from accounts or consumers. The decision to phase out this pump was made in in the beginning of the year and accounts, not consumers, were verbally notified by their sales representatives beginning in November. Only accounts were notified of this change, as the 57038 Personal Double Breast pump is not sold at retail. The 57038 Personal Double Breast pump will be phased out of the portfolio by the end of the 2015 calendar year. Additional information was sent to DMEs this week to ensure that they understood the portfolio change and the rationale behind it so they could continue to provide accurate information to customers.

We said “quietly” because we saw no mention—online or in writing—that the pump in question (57038) was being discontinued. After we began asking questions about this pump, Medela sent us a statement about the discontinuation on November 6, which is what we reported. We believe it was newsworthy that the pump was going away, given the online complaints and concerns raised by Bloomberg. The web site Babble ran a story based our report with much the same headline: MEDELA CONFIRMS QUIET PHASE-OUT OF INSURANCE-ISSUED DOUBLE BREAST PUMP.

“Medela is phasing out the Personal Double pump (model 57038) which features single phase technology due to complaints.”
The Personal Double pump (model 57038) is not being phased-out due to complaints. This product portfolio change was approved at the beginning of 2015. Both single-phase and 2-Phase Expression technology offer mom a quality experience. However Medela’s product line has been moving toward 2-Phase Expression technology for some time, and this portfolio change reflects that. If moms have any questions about what pump they have or concerns about the performance of their pumps, we hope they will call our customer service line so we can offer them our support. That number is 1-800-435-8316. Once again, our mission is to help all moms be successful breastfeeding. We are here to support them, and we thank you for helping us both clarify confusion around the pumps and offer moms access to Medela’s support services.

We did state Medela’s position on why the pump was being discontinued in our report (the move to 2-phase pumps). We stand by the timeline discussed in the report: the Bloomberg article was published October 15. We began asking questions of Medela in late October about the pump’s effectiveness. On November 6, Medela notified us via email that the pump was being discontinued.

3.   “Even though the pump will no longer be made after 2015, there could be hundreds if not thousands of these pumps still on the shelves.”
Medela stands behind the quality of all our products, and we are constantly working to improve the pumping experience for breastfeeding moms. Medela is proud to partner with a range of account partners including insurance companies, retailers, Durable Medical Equipment Providers (DME’s) who service both Medicaid and Commercial Insurance Plans, hospitals, and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) agencies. Medela is committed to providing a quality portfolio of breast pumps across all points of distribution.
This single-phase technology model represents a small percentage of all Medela personal use double electric pumps sold and is being phased out at the end of 2015.  Please also note that the 57038 Personal Double breast pump is not sold at retail.
While we stand behind the quality of all Medela products, it is important that consumers select the right pump and essentials for them. Please encourage your readers to be informed and ask questions regarding the products that are offered from their insurance providers.  The following links might be helpful.
Find a supplier for my insurance-covered pump
2-Phase Expression Technology
If consumers are concerned or confused regarding which model they currently have, the following should be helpful.
The 57038 Personal Double breast pump comes in a tan bag surrounding the motor. Additionally, you can identify a pump by the description on the faceplate, which will reference “Personal Double breast pump.”  If you are uncertain what model you have, and you have questions regarding your pump, please contact Medela’s Customer Service at 1-800-435-8316.

4.   “The pump is still for sale on Amazon and online via insurance suppliers.”
Medela does not sell the 57038 Personal Double breast pump on Amazon. If this product is offered via Amazon, it’s not through Medela. It could be private individuals or breastfeeding supply companies.
Also, the link included in the article with “insurance suppliers” directs readers to a Medela account that does not offer the 57038 Personal Double Breast pump. This account is very upset by this and we are respectfully requesting a correction.

We never claimed that Medela sells pumps directly to consumers; we just said the pump in question was being sold on Amazon.

As for the link to the insurance supplier listing the Medela Personal Double breast pump on their web site, that link goes to Rothschild’s Home Healthcare Center. As of this writing, that pump is still on the site with a link to a “product order request” form (in early 2016, that pump was removed from the site). In a quick internet search, we also see the pump in question listed on the web pages of other authorized Medela dealers, including this page on Edgepark Medical Suppliers.  And again here on Alpine Home Medical (page now removed as of March 2017).

5.   “If the pump package is unopened, you could ask your insurance company to see if you could exchange it for one of Medela’s two-phase models.”
Insurance companies do not inventory pumps for exchange and would not be able to act upon these consumer requests. It is important to clarify that Medela’s most commonly covered insurance pump is the Pump in Style Advanced Starter Kit (57081) not the Personal Double Breastpump (model 57038). Medela stands by the quality of our products. We want Medela moms to be happy with their pumps and have a successful breastfeeding journey. If consumers are dissatisfied with their pump for any reason or have any questions about their pumps, we encourage them to contact Medela’s Customer Service for assistance at 1-800-435-8316.

6.   Linking WIC Pumps to 57038.
We apologize for any confusion caused by the title of the web page featuring pump comparisons. The page shows a comparison of Medela pumps available to moms through insurance but was incorrectly titled. WIC moms receive the Advanced Personal Double Pump (57018W), which features 2-Phase Expression technology. Some WIC moms may receive the Pump In Style Advanced (57063), which also features 2-Phase Expression technology. We have updated the link name to avoid further confusion.

7.   Medela’s Personal Double Pump model 57038 isn’t featured on the Medela site.
The link provided to you above and in the original copy shows the Personal Double Pump model 57038. The title of the chart is Double Electric Personal Use Pumps Comparison.  

Our point: when you click on “Insurance Pumps” on Medela’s web site (Shop Products, Insurance Pumps), the only pump listed is the Pump in Style Advanced Breastpump Starter Set. The pump in the article (57038) isn’t on this page listing Insurance Pumps, even though it is clearly still being offered at this time by Medela dealers.

8.   Insurance covered pumps don’t yield as much milk as more expensive retail versions
Medela’s research-based and patented 2-Phase Expression technology mimics a baby’s natural nursing pattern in this way, while single-phase versions involve a single style of suction throughout the pumping session. All of Medela’s 2-Phase pumps work more like breastfeeding babies and are shown to get 18% more milk when double pumping.

Information regarding testing variances:
We rigorously test each pump in production to assure it meets our performance specifications when it ships from Medela. This testing is carefully designed and controlled using validated test processes and equipment. A pump’s suction may be impacted by atmospheric pressure, shield size, clean parts, line voltage to the power adaptor, or other variables. If you have concerns regarding your Medela pump’s performance, please contact our customer service team at 1-800-435-8316.

We stand by our reporting about the pressure results we got from testing the 57038 pump. We accounted for elevation (atmospheric pressure) in the testing. The pump we tested was in unopened original packaging (it was not used prior to testing). The shields and parts were original Medela parts and unused. The power adapter was the adapter included in the manufacturer’s box.

Addressing comments about misinformation
We will continue to educate DMEs on the attributes and differences among Medela products. We want every mom to have a great experience with Medela, and we are reaching out to DME’s to explain the phase out, as well as 2-Phase Expression technology.
Insurance Clarification
Medela is committed to providing a quality portfolio of breast pumps across all points of distribution. We offer health insurance plans a range of pumps for their members, but the insurance plan decides which pump a mom receives as part of her insurance benefit.
Medela’s most commonly covered insurance pump is the Pump in Style Advanced Starter Kit (57081). The Pump in Style Advanced Starter Kit features Medela patented 2-Phase Expression technology.
Medela also offers The Personal Double pump (57038). This single-phase technology model represents a small percentage of all Medela personal use double electric pumps sold and is being phased out at the end of 2015.
Both single-phase and 2-Phase Expression technology offer mom a quality experience, however Medela’s product portfolio is moving toward two phase technology.

Bottom line: we appreciate Medela’s response . . . and we stand by our story. After being told the breast pumps distributed via insurance carriers were the same as retail versions, we discovered one pump that clearly was not: the Medela Personal Double Pump model 57038 has no current retail equivalent and lacks 2-Phase technology. Our testing showed it has less power than other Medela pumps. Lacking the 2-phase feature, this pump yields up to 18% less milk than Medela’s other pumps. Yes, Medela says this pump only made up a small percentage of their insurance pump sales and was mainly offered to Medicaid recipients . . . but it is still out there, being distributed to new moms, some of whom have private insurance or insurance issued through an ACA/Obamacare exchange.

The quality of a breast pump is critical to encouraging moms to continue breastfeeding, especially those who must return to work outside the home. New parents should be aware: this Medela pump (57038) could be what your insurance plan says is your “free” Obamacare breast pump in 2016—even if the company stopped making them at the end of 2015. That’s because there could be hundreds if not thousands of these pumps sitting on the shelves of medical suppliers. Our advice: we suggest you choose a different pump than the 57038, if you have a choice.