Originally published in December 2017.
We PWDs (people with diabetes) now have a new “smart” option for dosing and tracking our insulin: a pen that offers many of the capabilities and functions of an infusion pump, but without the need to wear a device on our bodies 24/7.
That is, Companion Medical has just launched its much-anticipated InPen, a first-of-its-kind Bluetooth-connected insulin pen that keeps track of dosing information and recommends doses, as well as displaying blood sugar and related data on the paired app.
The FDA actually cleared the InPen more than a year ago in July 2016, and finally on Dec. 1 it launched here in the U.S. Details of the system and launch were unveiled in mid-November at our Fall #DData17 ExChange event at Stanford University, in a presentation by the CEO of this San Diego-based startup Sean Saint (a fellow type 1 himself who has quite a track record in the diabetes industry).
Now, the company has started shipping its first InPen orders in a “limited launch” with plans to expand availability in early 2018.
“A Significant Step Forward”
“This is a significant step forward in connected, integrated insulin delivery,” Saint tells us. “We think it’s pretty neat that our first-generation product leaps over pumps in some ways (in being so connected). We’re building a 2017 pump within a pen, if you will… not a decade-old pump or one that’s already obsolete by the time it’s available.”
Indeed, the InPen is unlike anything we’ve seen before, even compared to other so-called “smart pens,” in that:
- It’s a reusable pen that works with both Humalog and Novolog insulin cartridges (that can easily be inserted into the pen). The company tells us they’re also exploring possibilities for compatibility with other types of insulin going forward.
- It collects insulin dosing data and transmits it to the Companion app that includes a dose calculator to recommend your dosages (like a pump’s Bolus Wizard) and also calculates and displays real-time active insulin on board (IOB).
- It holds up to a year’s worth of insulin dosing data.
- Like a pump, the Companion app also allows you to set up reminders for specific dosing times like breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime snack, and if you haven’t dosed by the end of the set time window, the app will alarm.
- It also allows you to manually enter doses for basal insulin such as Lantus/ Levemir/ Tresiba and set reminders for those long-acting insulins.
- There’s a temperature sensor built into the pen that sets off an app alarm if the pen’s temp dips below freezing or above body temperature, ensuring that your insulin stays intact.
- It allows remote monitoring – users can set the app to automatically text message their dosing info to up to 5 people. This can include not only every insulin dose, but also BG and carb values (if entered manually) — all compiled into a single text message.
- It also allows you to share reports with healthcare providers.
- As it has Bluetooth built-in, you can also integrate data from other BT devices such as connected meters and even the Dexcom CGM (though importantly, the Dexcom data is retrospective from three hours ago, rather than real-time data). Using Apple HealthKit, information on that platform can be streamed into the app.
- Each new order comes with an AgaMatrix BT-connected glucose meter, along with 20 test strips. Once users run out of strips, they can either order more from AgaMatrix, or use a different meter to connect with the InPen.
- The free Companion app works with iOS 10 for now, and we’re told an Android version of the smartphone app is under development and should be available by the second half of 2018.
Here’s an intro video about the InPen, with a quick walk-through of how it works.
Launch and Pricing Details
Saint tells us they’re starting with a “limited launch” for now as the company gets its shipping procedures and operational aspects fine-tuned before a broader nationwide launch. This isn’t a geographically limited launch, but rather a start with a small number of product and then ramping up to full capacity. Since the company’s sales director (and currently their only field rep) happens to be located in Florida, that’s where initial InPen orders will be based.
And now, for the cost… (brace yourself).
The out-of-pocket price tag is $798. Yes, that’s quite pricey!
But Saint assures us that a number of big insurance plans have already approved the InPen for coverage, and they expect the number to grow in 2018. Copays may be anywhere from $0-50, or possibly higher depending on insurance. He has seen customer copays as low as $0, and he also mentions a $250 savings coupon available to eligible customers to bring down the cash price.
Currently, they are using a third-party mail order pharmacy for InPen orders. Eventually, they plan to make InPen available directly in pharmacy stories nationwide for easier access.
Those interested in ordering InPen can sign up at their “Get InPen” page, or ask your healthcare provider to look into writing you a prescription. You can choose from grey, blue or pink pen options.
As to the future, Saint tells us they are already in talks with leaders in D-data platforms — such as Glooko, Tidepool, and others — about collaborating for expanded integration. He would also like to see, at some point, an open API that would allow diabetes do-it-yourselfers to pull data directly from the InPen into platforms like Nightscout and open-source closed loop systems.
In short, we’re very excited to see this new product on the market, and can’t wait to try it out for ourselves!