For people with diabetes, keeping blood sugar levels in a normal range – not too high or too low – is a lifelong challenge. New technologies to ease the burden are emerging rapidly, but insurance reimbursement challenges, supply shortages, and shifting competition make it tough for patients to access them quickly.

One new product is a fast-acting insulin from Novo Nordisk. It is designed to help to minimize the high blood sugar spikes that often occur when people with diabetes eat a meal containing carbohydrates.

This new formulation, branded “Fiasp,” adds niacinamide (vitamin B3), which roughly doubles the speed of initial insulin absorption compared to current fast-acting insulins taken at mealtime. This new insulin hits the bloodstream in under three minutes.

Another advance is Abbott’s new monitoring device called the FreeStyle Libre Flash. It’s new in the U.S. but has been available in Europe since 2014. It’s a round patch with a catheter that is inserted on the arm for up to 10 days and a durable scanning device that the user waves over the patch to read their blood sugar level.

The Libre works a bit differently than the two currently available continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) made by Dexcom and Medtronic. The Libre doesn’t require users to prick their fingers for blood tests to calibrate it, whereas users of the other monitors must perform twice-daily fingerstick calibrations.

Also, the Libre is approved for longer wear – 10 days (14 in Europe) versus seven days for the two current CGMs. And, it is likely to be considerably less expensive, although Abbott isn’t providing cost information for the U.S. just yet. In Europe, the Libre system costs about four Euros a day.

But, unlike the current devices, the Libre doesn’t issue alarms to users when their blood glucose levels get too high or too low. And the U.S. version also doesn’t allow for the “share” capability, by which loved ones can follow Dexcom glucose monitor users’ blood sugar levels remotely via a smartphone app.


Read more: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/10/18/558098520/diabetes-technology-moves-closer-to-making-life-easier-for-patients

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