With the New Year just days away, we're keeping up our tradition of reviewing what made this past year, 2016, one to remember in the Diabetes World and here at the 'Mine.
We've had some big moments this year, and if we had to boil it down to one prominent theme, that would have to be: Fighting For Change. Seriously, that's what this last year was about not only in diabetes and healthcare, but across the board politically.
In our world, the hot topics were/are: healthcare reform uncertainties, medication access and affordability, pushing for accuracy of glucose meters and getting policy-makers to believe that CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) is as good as fingersticks, looking beyond A1C in evaluating D-treatments, and regulatory approvals including the commercial launch of first-of-its-kind closed loop technology. And of course, there was witnessing Google finally creating a Google Doodle for World Diabetes Day after so many years of saying it wouldn't.
Here's a look at what stood out to us in 2016, month-by-month (and yes, we are keeping this post up for a two-day stretch to ensure ya'll have a chance to go through it, despite all the holiday festivities!)
Be sure to let us know what caught your eye in the Diabetes World this past year, and what you're looking forward to most as we head into 2017.
The year kicked off on a happy note with the introduction of a new American Girl Doll who happens to have diabetes, just like so many little girls out there. She sports her own insulin pump, medical ID, glucose tabs, etc. Hopefully a popular choice for Xmas this year!
Then there were those diabetes lego memes that made us smile. Huge thanks to T1D peep Andy Broomhead for getting so darn creative.
Getting down to more serious diabetes business, the annual JP Morgan Healthcare investor conference in San Francisco foreshadowed what was coming from MannKind's inhalable insulin Afrezza, closed loop and CGM technology advancements, and new implantable diabetes technology. This conference always sets the stage for the coming year.
Likewise, the huge CES (Consumer Electronics Showcase) tradeshow in Vegas brought us all the latest digital health gadgets. In case you missed it, our report on the new Diabetes + mHealth technology displayed at that event was one of our best-read posts of the year.
The legendary Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston got a new CEO, Dr. Peter Amenta, who vowed to "stabilize the organization's finances while maintaining and growing (their) reputation for offering the finest in research and clinical care."
The FDA issued new draft guidance on medical device interoperability -- a 19-page document that addresses the all-important roadblock of safety concerns. We interviewed five #DData thought leaders to get their take, and found they were encouraged but would still like to see more emphasis on patient ownership of the data, and a bigger push for manufacturers to design products for *maximum* interoperability, including the ability to safely interoperate with other devices in use cases outside the manufacturers' original intended use (wink: #OpenAPS).
This got us nostalgic to take a look back at some "lost diabetes technology" over the years -- some good ideas that just never got off the ground.
We scored an interview with up-and-coming Nickelodeon TV star Brec Bassinger, a teen living with type 1 diabetes. We thought it was fascinating since she represents the end of Gen Y and the beginning of the Millennial Generation -- who will definitely be having a different experience living with diabetes given all the advancements underway.
The controversy over skyrocketing insulin costs was stirred up when Eli Lilly executives made comments about their increasing profits during an earnings call -- ouch! We published a report and Call to Action to the Big Three insulin makers.
Dr. Phil jumped into the D-world as a spokesman for AstraZeneca; the existing Diabetes Community was mostly not amused, citing conflict of interest and the fact that he's not actually an MD. Naturally, the Pharma company defended their choice.
The first human trials of the iLET Bionic Pancreas got underway, and we were thrilled to feature a first-person report from the study by Christina Roth of College Diabetes Network. "All-in-all it was a pretty good start for the #GoldenPancreas (my personal nickname for the system)," she shared.
Meanwhile, ViaCyte was making headlines with their embryonic stem cell approach to a "cure." We explored the hype vs. hope of this pathway.
Our own Mike Hoskins penned, "A Letter to My Insurance Company: I'd Rather Not Die Today" that reverberated around the community -- about why it's so vital that CGM be available to people with hypoglycemia unawareness -- or with any risk at all of going low
We launched a new DiabetesMine Challenges Matrix survey calling on the patient community to help us score all manner of diabetes products and services in terms of how much they impact our lives. We basically asked: "Are Diabetes Tools Hitting the Mark on Impact & Access?"
More clear evidence surfaced showing that Medicare Competitive Bidding causes harm to PWDs (people with diabetes). Seriously, the data shows damages including increased deaths -- ugh.
Our D-Community welcomed Beta Bionics, the new Public Benefits Corp. behind the iLET Bionic Pancreas. This novel new business structure allows donations alongside commercial funding. We're of course rooting for Dr. Ed Damiano and team!
Avoiding hypos? There's an app for that! We offered an exclusive preview of InSpark’s new Vigilant app that predicts hypoglycemia based on sophisticated pattern recognition technology that renowned AP researcher Dr. Boris Kovatchev and his team have been working on this technology for over 10 years.
We also took an in-depth look at diabetes device recalls in the first of our four-part series on the Why, How, Who and When of D-devices that must be pulled from market or flagged for possible flaws, from glucose meters and test strips to insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors and more.
Our media-savvy correspondent Dan Fleshler took a long hard look at What Can Be Done About High Insulin Prices? Little did we know, this issue would explode later in the year. Thank you, EpiPen (sort of).
April not only brings showers, but Earth Day. How to celebrate that with diabetes? We took a look at an award-winning fashion design, a dress made entirely of recycled diabetes supplies. Bling!
The disruptive #DData nonprofit Tidepool was celebrating its third birthday. On the heels of CEO Howard Look being honored as a White House Champion of Change, the company was seeing its Blip product taking off big-time, and fluttering with excitement about its work with closed loop developers to employ its open-source platform and design expertise in creating next-gen Artificial Pancreas tech. Woot!
To help newbies and loyal readers alike, we published this guide to the Artificial Pancreas: What You Should Know -- that explains the jargon and technology, and introduces the various players.
The all-in-one automatic POGO glucose meter *finally* got approved by FDA. Out of purgatory, and into the frying pan?
Then THIS happened: "UnitedHealthcare Restricts Insulin Pump Choice: The Diabetes Community Responds!" Yup, there was a huge public outcry after UnitedHealthcare settled on Medtronic as its "preferred" pump choice, making it difficult to impossible for covered patients to get another pump brand. This was the catalyst for the current #DiabetesAccessMatters advocacy campaign.
That fed right into the 7th annual Diabetes Blog Week, that kicked off with key advocacy messages. We talked about access to necessary supplies and the most impactful treatments, and the need to inform the public at large about the challenges of diabetes. No small tasks.
At least in the arena of making diabetes education more accessible, we could celebrate the work of "Diabetes - What to Know," a new program offering free, helpful and bold videos teaching people about diabetes basics.
Time for the American Diabetes Association's huge annual conference, of course. We traveled to the 76th ADA Scientific Sessions in super-humid New Orleans to bring you live accounts of 2016 Diabetes Product and Business News and Diabetes Cure Talk: Research Updates from ADA 2016.
On the Friday before that big conference, we also hosted our June 2016 DiabetesMine D-Data ExChange, New Orleans-style. This is our biannual gathering of diabetes technology developers and influencers, and the now-legendary talk by hacker Mark Wilson changed our lives. High five, @warkmilson!
Did you know that diabetes can be an art form, expressed in multiple medium? In June, we explored glucose data sculptures that inspire and interviewed a popular YouTube makeup artist who uses body paint for diabetes self-expression.
To be sure the context was understood, we published our own Story of Inhaled Insulin (So Far) -- a must-read!
We announced the 10 winners of the 2016 DiabetesMine Patient Voices Contest, each one of them an amazing advocate and change-maker in their own right. Also worth checking out!
In terms of the evolution of diabetes tools and treatments, we looked at the trend toward weaving coaching into D-tools, which we find brilliant and much-needed.
During June, we also lost well-loved diabetes advocate Kitty Castellini, a lover of bologna, practical joker, Disney fan and devoted mom and wife who founded the Diabetes Living Today weekly radio show and website in 2007 that was one of the early online hubs bringing our community together. RIP, Kitty - we miss you!
We started out the month with a "Call for a Revolution in Healthcare Access and Choice" that decries the "oppression of the insurance formulary." Yes, this is about the grassroots #DiabetesAccessMatters campaign. And no, we're not done there!
One of the most widely reported items coming out of the big 2016 ADA meeting in NOLA was new data showing that T2 drug Victoza does not reduce the risk of diabetes complications. We looked into it and found that Pharma giants are actually feuding over heart-risk lowering diabetes drugs.
We were psyched to score an interview with one of the early trial-testers of Medtronic's 670G hybrid closed loop system, the first commercial pre-Artificial Pancreas system that was FDA approved later in the year. Our man in the study found he felt better both physically and emotionally while using the 670G than any time in the years since his diagnosis. Wow!
July always brings us the awesome CWD Friends for Life conference in Orlando, FL. This year, we sent our columnist and correspondent Wil Dubois, who reported a first-timer's view of FFL. Upshot: Wil was blown away, from the Nightscout booth to the AP updates to the various country music stars with diabetes on the scene.
Bigfoot Biomedical kicked off its closed loop clinical trial -- a three-month study of its "smartloop" system that our community is VERY excited about, with hopes that this will be first to market after the 670G.
July was the month marking a milestone in the evolution of continuous glucose monitors: an FDA panel voted in favor of viewing Dexcom CGM results as accurate as fingersticks for making insulin dosing decisions. This *could* mean the end of traditional fingerstick glucose meters for many PWDs -- IF the FDA decides to give full support to the panel recommendation.
In summer 2016, the American Diabetes Association hired a head of Type 1 Diabetes Programs to bring more of a focus to its T1 efforts. We interviewed their pick, the venerable Paul Madden.
The country almost got another Miss America living with T1D. Eighteen-year-old Caroline Carter from New Hampshire (diagnosed at age 11) got sooooo close to the national title. But she's still a hero in the eyes of the Diabetes Community, and now doing great advocacy work.
A lawsuit against U.S. Army programs claimed discrimination against kids with diabetes -- specifically preventing them from participating in summer camps, daycare programs, and before- and after-school services as a result of their T1D needs. Shame on you, Army Corps!
On trend for summer, we took a deep dive into the Paleo Diet and Diabetes, interviewing nutritionists, doctors, fitness experts and patients. Loads of good info there.
The Big Three Insulin Makers began to respond to outrage over skyrocketing prices. Think EpiPen pricing debacle and Congressional investigation.
The new all-in-one Dario glucose meter announced that they are iPhone 7 ready, to offset any fears that integration with smartphone tech will render the product unusable every time Apple launches a new phone model -- a new kind of challenge for diabetes device-makers.
Google announced that it is diving into diabetes for real via a new joint with Sanofi called Onduo. The company is working on as-yet top secret tools for type 2 diabetes that will "help people make better decisions about their day-to-day health, ranging from improved medication management to improved habits and goals."
Glooko & Diasend merged to create the largest diabetes data platform to date. Be on the lookout for the new, unified Glooko that will start materializing over the next year. No more Diasend, at least in name.
The FDA held a seminal workshop on "Moving Beyond A1C" in evaluating diabetes treatments. We were happy to report that the meeting was "a lovefest of unanimous agreement" among stakeholders, so we have high hopes for new measures that take into account 'time in range' and quality of life factors!
At the end of September, our community witnessed a HUGE MILESTONE in progression of diabetes technology: FDA approved Medtronic's new Minimed 670G pre-Artificial Pancreas system, expected to usher in a whole new era of automated glucose control. Congrats and thank you to Medtronic, JDRF and the Hemlsley Charitable Trust for pushing this forward!
Tandem Diabetes Care made a play to revolutionize the world of insulin pumping by announcing a new "remote upgrade program" for its t:slim pump. This lets customers obtain their next-gen technology electronically right from home just like we do with our smartphones.
Another insulin pump hacking scare surfaced with the Animas OneTouch Ping. But don't worry: we looked into all the details and the risk is actually minuscule.
We profiled the T1D Exchange, which was launching a new community app this Fall, along with making waves in diabetes innovation. We applaud their efforts!
Of course it was coming down to the wire with Election Season, and we took a look at the brouhaha surrounding candidates' health, and offered a Diabetes Voter's Guide for Election 2016. Too bad the main outcome of the 2016 election was divisiveness in the country.
We kept plugging at the Insulin Pricing controversy with a pretty amazing guest post that follows the money trail on insulin prices (with eye-opening infographic!)
Many were delighted to see the FDA finalize new guidelines for better glucose meter accuracy. The regulatory agency actually issued two sets of guidance, one for meters used in clinical settings and one for personal home-use meters. We investigated the differences.
The end of October was a HUGE time for us here at the 'Mine, as we hosted our Fall 2016 D-Data ExChange and DiabetesMine Innovation Summit in San Francisco!
In case you missed it, please read about our patient community research unveiled at the Summit this year: Diabetes Patients Rate Tools & Services, and be sure to download the full 2016 DiabetesMine Challenges MATRIX Report to gain an understanding of what PWDs find most helpful in their disease care.
Time for Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day 2016 -- which were both perhaps a bit under the radar this year. We always do our best to support, but couldn't help questioning the effectiveness of these disease awareness months; unfortunately, authorities have found very little data on whether activities connected to these months/days have any tangible impact on public health.
The one BIG WIN was seeing Google finally creates a doodle for World Diabetes Day! After years of advocating for this, our community was thrilled to see the search page illustration, along with a brief awareness video explaining to the general public (!)
Meanwhile, the DIY solution Nightscout is having a huge impact worldwide. We shared a story from Romania about a new portal that helps doctors utilize Nightscout with their patients.
In the wake of our Fall DiabetesMine Innovation events, we reported a "Story of Biblical Proportions" from the Fall 2016 Diabetes D-Data ExChange (think Jericho's walls coming down!) and offered a comprehensive recap of the 2016 DiabetesMine Summit - Exploring Quality of Life Innovations.
Please take a moment to view the three short Diabetes Challenges Music Videos (!) created for the 2016 DiabetesMine Innovation Summit -- illustrating real life with diabetes, Instagram-style, to music.
We also announced the Winners of the 2016 DiabetesMine Usability Innovation Awards. Congrats to Dexcom, Abbott Libre, TuDiabetes and OpenNotes for being chosen by the patient community as stand-out offerings that help them most!
Last not least, a national meeting was held in Washington DC to address insulin affordability and access. This was the inaugural Access to Insulin Roundtable, bringing together about two dozen advocates and advocacy groups with execs from all three Big Insulin companies, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi. With everyone "at the table," we're hoping for real solutions!
We reflected on that Insulin Roundable meeting from November, and asked ourselves: How much of these efforts are just PR vs. Push for Real Change in the Insulin Affordability Crisis?
A big trend emerging is smart insulin pen technology, allowing these gadgets to help patients by tracking dosing, sharing that data and more. We introduced Insulog, another new 'smart' pen cap being launched, that's small and supposedly records more data than competitors.
Fitbit threw the Diabetes Community a loop when it suddenly decided to scrap the Pebble Watch, which serves as the basis for so many folks' Nightscout setup. Fitbit also announced a partnership with Medtronic to develop a T2 diabetes App. Should be interesting to watch (pun intended!)
At long last, 'generic' biosimilar insulin is becoming reality (!), although -- surprise -- these copycat insulins are not coming from newcomers, but from established Pharma companies themselves. As of Dec. 15, Eli Lilly's new Basaglar basal insulin is available to buy here in the U.S. It's the first so-called “follow-on” version of a competitor,s successful product (Sanofi's long-acting insulin Lantus).
And did you know? The FDA decided to round out 2016 with a couple of HUUUGE decisions...
Say hello to the OneTouch Vibe Plus, a pump-CGM combo which features the Dexcom G5 built in! JnJ is still evaluating exact launch dates, but we can expect to see this come to market some time in early 2017.
In a landmark decision on Dec. 20 (an early holiday gift to the D-Community), the FDA voted that Dexcom G5 is suitable for dosing decisions! That means users of the Dexcom G5 are no longer officially required to take a fingerstick glucose test before dosing insulin. Goodbye to finger pokes for real, at last??
No matter how you slice up public opinion in this divided country, 2017 will surely be an exciting year on the diabetes front: with major advancements in closed loop / artificial pancreas tech, and new insulin delivery devices.
What about you, Dear Readers: Anything stand out in your minds from this past year that we might have missed? Let us know...
while we're at it, we want to hear from you about how we're doing, providing info and insights to the Diabetes Community here at the 'Mine. As always, your input
is more than welcome, so please comment or email us!