I have lots of news from the the huge expo floor of this year's American Diabetes Association annual conference this week. To start off, one of the most impressive new devices I saw was indeed the new Jewel Pump from Debiotech out of Lausanne, Switzerland. My friend and colleague Dr. Rich Jackson of the Joslin Diabetes Center even went so far as to call it "best in show."
This smooth, oval-shaped disposal patch pump appears to be the next evolution of the company's original micropump utilizing futuristic microfluidic MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System) technology to put all of the systems "brains" on a tiny chip. But who cares what's inside, right? As long as the product delivers. So why is this pump system looking like a real breakthrough?
- the "pod" portion is incredibly flat, smooth and comfortable-looking. It can carry up to 400 units of insulin (double the capacity of OmniPod) housed inside the incredibly flat, smooth, oval insulin reservoir that comprises a whole "layer" of the pump.
- there is no separate controller unit! Rather, you will control this pump via a smartphone application that runs on Android. You can use it on any Android-enabled cell phone. This is the tricky part for FDA approval, of course, but the company has already filed its 510K application, and seems optimistic. To ensure user safety, they've designed the "controller app" such that it disables the regular functions of your phone while you are bolusing or making other pump adjustments. In other words, when you're in "pump mode" on the phone, you cannot send or receive calls or emails — not until you explicitly exit pump mode. You also need a secret PIN code to access "pump mode" — a further safety measure to make sure that no one else picks up your phone and starts fiddling with insulin delivery (see photos below)
- it has all the advanced features of the pumps we know and love, including bolus wizard and correction wizard, with adjustments for IOB (insulin on board), plus there are side buttons right on the pump for quick & easy bolusing without the controller, if desired. (Similar to that of Medingo's new Solo pump, the Jewel's closest would-be rival)
- the Jewel is easily detachable, so you can comfortably bathe or soak in a hot tub and then reconnect without losing your insulin and current "pod." Like the the Solo, the Jewel has a flat cradle with the cannula that stays on your body for easy reconnection. This separation of parts also allows you to change your infusion site without dumping the current pod and insulin in use; you just pop it into the new cradle.
- They use the same exact adhesive material as the OmniPod, so least likely to irritate the skin, and the Jewel adhesive protrudes a bit in the front around the cannula area to offer a little extra reinforcement to keep the cannula in place (something I have for a long time wished the OmniPod had)
- again, it's VERY flat, light and attractive, and comes in a half-dozen different vibrant colors, including black, blue and orange.
Some views of the pump's Android interface:
The Jewel pump is already in mass production in Italy and could be ready for market in the US by mid-2011, the company tells me. They have a setup that allows them to create up to 10,000 units at a time. Pretty impressive. But how do they plan to sell at that volume in the US? Not on their own, they say. Debiotech's main goal in exhibiting at ADA was to shop for "partner companies" that may be interested in licensing and selling the products in the States, they said. Or possible acquisition? They couldn't comment. I just really want one. To me this looks like the future of pumping — small, slick, wireless yet high-volume, and controlled by your very own SmartPhone.
Also on display:
- Medingo's Solo Patch pump, recently acquired by Roche Diabetes, which had the misfortune to be stationed in the booth right next door to the Jewel. I've previewed the Solo model several times before. Funny, Solo is FDA approved and even got pediatric clearance in January, but the system's not slated to hit the market until 2012. The newest iteration of the PDM is looking nicer; it has these colorful bar graphs to help you visualize your basal settings for example, which I really like. But there are some weaknesses that could hurt the Solo's chances of success if its competitors are on the ball:
Solo is bigger and less 'sexy' than the Jewel; it doesn't yet have an integrated glucose meter like OmniPod does, although Roche is feverishly working on remedying that. There is currently no software associated with the system, so you can't download any records from it. Roche of course has plans to integrate it with their SmartPix and Accu-Chek 360 software asap. (There's a mini-USB port at the waiting on the Solo).
The one advantage I saw in the Solo is that Medingo's developing two different cannula lengths for the system — 6mm and 9mm — at different angles, to help users get better absorption and fewer accidental disconnects. Solo also offers seven different color options, in the form of exchangeable front plates. So you can accessorize.
LifeScan was also showing off the new Delica Lancing System, its new compact little lancet that uses tiny 33g needles. They were giving out demo units at the show, so I got a chance to give it a try. It is pretty painless indeed, and very small and pleasing to handle. I quite liked this model — the one big disadvantage being the fact that it uses proprietary lancing needles, meaning you cannot use those extra boxes of "regular" lancing needles your insurance sent you, but will rather have to convince your insurance provider to cover a new, special set of Delica-specific needles.
And Intuity Medical was once again showcasing it All-In-One glucose testing system, formerly called the OnQ, and now branded "Pogo," which stands for "Press & Go." This is a glucose meter with the lancing system built right in, a la Pelikan (but based on different technology), so that all you have to do is hold your finger up to a little hole on the meter and the system does the rest. Inside is a drum that holds 10 test strips, each with a separate lancet. You just push the button, it gives you a countdown, and then pokes your finger and tests. You don't see any blood or the needle, and there are no test strips to dispose of. When(ever) it receives FDA approval, the Pogo meter will be full-featured; it can store 500 BG data points and you can tag each result breakfast, lunch or dinner, or pre- or post-, etc. by simply clicking on icons such as a sun for waketime and moon for pre-bedtime. The company says they are also developing their very own unique comprehensive software for downloading your data from the Pogo, which they hope will be available at launch (which is TBD, depending on the FDA's next moves). The Pogo looks pretty appealing to be sure, but since I've seen it on display at the last two ADA conferences, I'm having trouble getting very excited about its actual availability in the near future. Call me when it's approved for market, please!
Much more news from ADA is coming, just as soon as I recover from last night's various cocktail parties ;)