By Craig Idlebrook
When it comes to blood sugar control, knowledge is power. People with diabetes who are vigilant about monitoring their blood sugar levels can identify patterns throughout the day and make corrections.
To do this, some people with diabetes use a device called a continuous glucose monitor, which automatically monitors blood sugar readings every few minutes. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is worn on the body and can send readings to an insulin pump or a smartphone. CGM users, usually people with type 1 diabetes, often find the device provides more reliable blood sugar data than using paper and pen to track levels. The device also provides charts to help analyze patterns.
For years, Medtronic has been making CGMs mainly for people with type 1 diabetes. Now, the company has launched an initiative to create CGMs primarily for people with type 2 diabetes. It’s part of the company’s pivot to expand its diabetes business into type 2 care.
Last year, the company rolled out an advertising campaign to encourage insulin pump use for people with type 2 diabetes on insulin therapy¹. However, most people with type 2 diabetes aren’t on insulin therapy, said Laura Stoltenberg, Medtronic’s vice president of non-intensive diabetes therapies, and company officials want to reach more people with type 2 and poor blood sugar control.
To do this, they decided on a strategy to repurpose an existing CGM prescribed by clinicians. Medtronic’s iPro2, which has been on the market for years, was designed to provide data to diagnose problems with daily blood sugar management. The device is a single-use CGM that is designed to be worn for up to a week at home.
It often is used as a kind of a blood sugar management intervention – providing data to patients so they can see the effects of their diet choices. It has not been an important part of Medtronic’s portfolio in recent years, says Stoltenberg.
“It’s honestly a product we hadn’t paid that much attention to,” she said.
Medtronic now wants to repurpose the device to sell it direct to consumers. To do this, the company is partnering with Qualcomm, an electronics manufacturer, to create CGMs that can be produced at high volume and low cost, says Stoltenberg.
Making the device low-cost will also help Medtronic circumvent a regulatory barrier that has been the consternation of older CGM users. Currently, Medicare does not generally reimburse for CGMs. Diabetes advocates have long been advocating to change this policy, but it doesn’t appear that Medtronic’s type 2 initiatives will provide additional momentum.
It will still be a few years before a repurposed iPro2 might be ready for market, Stoltenberg said.
¹ Disclosure – Medtronic placed ads on Type 2 Nation as part of this campaign. Type 2 Nation has received no financial compensation or quid pro quo promises for future compensation for writing about this new initiative.
Photo Credit: Craig Idlebrook, Type 2 Nation