OK, I'll admit, I was a little confused about Medtronic's recent announcements: a new Guardian RT continuous monitor? A pediatric version? And a pretty unobtrusive-looking MiniLink transmitter? But was that a new component, or something sold separately? And what about the people already using the product, with that dongle-thing attached?
Not one to settle for confusion, I have chased down a senior PR manager over there, Steve Sabicer, and gotten the skinny (he, he):
* Medtronic's ground-breaking Paradigm Real-Time combo insulin pump and CGM system has been reintroduced with the amazing new tiny wireless and waterproof MiniLink transmitter, attached to the body via adhesive (just one thing - no dongles). The MiniLink is "exactly one-half the size of a pregnant poker chip," according to LifeAfterDx blogger Wil, who's among the first to use it.
* The stand-alone Guardian Real-Time CGM (continuous glucose monitor only) has also been reintroduced with the MiniLink transmitter. It previously used yet another transmitter model, but going forward, both the Paradigm and Guardian systems are "standardized" on the MiniLink transmitter. Quite an improvement!
* A Guardian REAL-Time System will currently run you $1,339, while the Starter Kit for the Paradigm REAL-Time System is priced at $649. And for those who already own either product, upgrades to the MiniLink transmitter are available for $399 through July 31st, or take advantage of Medtronic's "Extra Bonus Special" price of $349 ($50 off) until April 23, Sabicer says.
* Meanwhile, the company has obtained FDA approval for both products to be used by kids ages 7-17. Special "versions" for kids are really only different in one way, Sabicer says: they have a "hard threshold" of a maximum low of 90 BG. That means the low alarm is set to go off at 90, and this level cannot be lowered -- safety reg for children, apparently.
Not surprisingly, the company has had "lots of positive feedback on the small size and sleek design," Sabicer says. He couldn't reveal the numbers, but says they've had a "robust uptake in sales now that this new generation product is available nationally." (It's been about a month on the nationwide market, versus limited availabililty in seven cities previously.)
Sounds like great response considering that none of the national health plans cover CGM yet. The JDRF and other groups are pushing, but all seem to agree that broad coverage of this therapy will take another 2-3 years. So for now, you've got to want it enough to pay out of pocket. Among the D-blogger community, there are already at least one or two who did.
Even without having seen it in person, the MiniLink looks pretty impressive to me. Tiny is GOOD. Waterproof is GOOD. Which makes for discreet and comfortable.
So has Medtronic been following the discussions here about improving diabetes device design? Yes, sir!
"We read you guys (diabetes bloggers) every day. We're happy that you're very active and enthusiastic," Sabicer says. "We appreciate feedback. It helps us make better decisions for future products."
Which might look like...?
"Our ultimate vision is to integrate the devices into consumer products like cell phones, wrist watches, and PDAs, and to make the user interface more intuitive, so people can use the devices with very little instruction," Sabicer says.
"We also want to make improvements like making the screens clearer, with a higher resolution, so that if you have retinopathy, for example, you can still see it."
So does Medtronic have their eye on breakout products like the OmniPod?
"Surely there's a great opportunity in the area of 'patch pumps'. We're exploring all kinds of innovations," he says.
Got some tips for Medtronic? Feel free to post them here.