With the New Year just days away, we're keeping up our tradition of reviewing what made this past year one to remember in the Diabetes World, and here at the 'Mine. If we had to boil it down to a single theme, the 2018 message might have to be: Acknowledging How Far We've Come in Diabetes.

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We also asked the Twitter community to chime in on what word or phrase they might use to describe 2018 in the context of everything diabetes. Some of the responses included: Aspirational, Expensive, Determination, Resilient, Inaccessible, Exhausting, #insulin4all and #WeAreNotWaiting.

Clearly, opinions may vary, much like YDMV (Your Diabetes May Vary).

With that community feedback in mind, here's a look at what stood out to us in 2018, month-by-month (and yes, we are keeping this post up for a few days to ensure all have a chance to go through it, given the holiday festivities). Be sure to let us know what you found momentous in the Diabetes World this past year, and what you're looking forward to most as we head into 2019.

 

Looking Back on the Year 2018 in Diabetes

January

Medicare made the long-awaited and highly welcome decision to cover both the OmniPod tubeless insulin pump and the new Abbott Libre flash glucose monitoring system. Because CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) typically sets the stage for what private insurers will cover, this was a big win for PWDs (people with diabetes) of all ages!

As a nasty round of wildfires and mudslides plagued California, many diabetes orgs stepped up to help PWDs in need. There were many "Diabetes Disaster Mode" lessons to be learned.

In the constant search for a diabetes cure, a novel approach appeared in the form of a spider's web. Yep, researchers at Cornell University came up with a concept to implant a sort of synthetic string inside the body that would allow clumps of insulin-producing islet cells to connect in a "beads on a string" structure, like that of spider's silk. It's still in the R&D phase, of course.

A Colorado lawmaker became the third (after Nevada and Mississippi) to introduce a bill mandating insulin pricing transparency in his state. These Drug Pricing Transparency Acts have become a cornerstone of the #insulin4all movement.

 

February

"Is my insulin bad?" That's a question many of us ask ourselves periodically, with no way of knowing. A controversial new study explored insulin concentration and potential supply chain problems that could mean the quality of insulin isn't up to par by the time it reaches patients.

The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) got serious about embracing patient peer support with some very public moves to create a closer relationship with the DOC (Diabetes Online Community) and other patient groups. Kudos to them! {Disclaimer: DiabetesMine was involved in this effort}

We got a chance to trial-test the new Companion InPen "smart insulin pen" that can gather and share dosing data. Verdict: it brings a lot of the cool powerful features of an insulin pump to pen users, but it's pricey.

We scored an interview with low-carb pioneer Dr. Richard Bernstein, who at age 83 remains steadfast in his opinion that "there is a carbist-conspiracy, and that carb consumption is the main culprit in the treatment of diabetes these days."

 

March

Medtronic announced that it was bringing back its stand-alone CGM with its Guardian 3 sensor -- but oddly we've heard hardly a whisper out there about this product since. The company appears to be directing everyone to its 670G pump-sensor "hybrid closed loop" system instead, and in fact, we published user tips on that system this same month.

Dexcom received FDA approval for its G6 CGM model in March as well. (So maybe MedT's Guardian announcement was no coincidence?) The Dexcom G6 became the first of its kind offering direct-to-phone smartphone connectivity, with no need for a separate receiver and no fingerstick calibrations required!

MannKind Corp. brought on a new CMO -- Dr. David Kendall formerly of Eli Lilly -- to ensure a bright future for Afrezza inhaled insulin. We got a sneak preview of their BluHale device under development, which will bring data tracking and connectivity to the Afrezza inhaler.

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We interviewed the newest president of AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators), Donna Ryan, who brings important knowledge of the glaring gaps in healthcare that exist for some of the poorest, underserved populations in our country.

On that note, AADE began to dig in to transporation barriers for people with diabetes: how can patients physically get to the care they need?

March is of course Women's History Month, so we made a project of creating a detailed Tribute to Women in Diabetes History, honoring a dozen-plus women from past and present who have made a positive mark on our D-World. 

 

April

Sanofi launched its newest Admelog insulin, a biosimilar "copycat version" of Lilly's Humalog that's supposed to be available in U.S. pharmacies at the "lowest list price" of any meal-time insulin on the market. This hasn't solved the Insulin Affordability Crisis, but it's a step in the right direction. 

The #insulin4all movement advocating on that crisis began really gaining steam in America, with help from former Poison rocker Bret Michaels.

Meanwhile, big insulin maker Eli Lilly stepped into the islet encapsulation world, announcing a collaboration with Sigilon Therapeutics to develop implantable mini-capsules containing insulin-making islet cells that would go into a person's abdomen -- lasting for at least a year without the need for immunosuppressant medications.

 

May

New standout country singer Ben Rue launched a "Buck Off Diabetes" campaign with Roche Diabetes Care that promotes a cost-savings program and supports donations to diabetes nonprofits.

DiabetesMine was invited to visit the Lilly Cambridge Innovation Center in Cambridge, MA, as part of a gathering of a dozen diabetes bloggers invited out to learn about the company's vision for the future of insulin delivery -- where we learned all about their new pump, pen and "ecosystem" plans. 

We marked May as National Mental Health Awareness Month by investigating what's being done to better address the common combo of diabetes and mental health challenges

The WNYC Public Radio show Sugarland, a pretty darn amazing investigative series highlighting the diabetes epidemic and skyrocketing insulin prices, actually got it right in distinguishing between T1 and T2. But it also reignited the debate about the need to revise those names.

 

June

The American Diabetes Association's annual Scientific Sessions were held in Orlando, FL. We covered the action live on both hot new research presented and new technology and products on display. Tech stars of the show included the newly FDA approved InPen smart insulin pen, Tandem's Basal IQ dose adjusting software, OmniPod's upcoming bluetooth-enabled DASH system, and the new Eversense implantable CGM that's just now reaching patients and creating a lot of buzz.

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Along with those exciting approvals, Medicare finally spoke out stating it would support smartphone use for CGM and other diabetes tools -- hugely important for coverage going forward!

No one stirs controversy quite like Dr. Denise Faustman, and this year, she even prompted an unprecedented joint statement from ADA and JDRF warning that her research findings may be overhyped. 

We were privileged to connect with Nicole Smith-Holt, a D-mom who's become an extremely active advocate for afforable insulin after losing her 26-year-old son to DKA as a result of rationing insulin. Nicole is involved in pushing for drug pricing reform and transparency legistation.

 

July

July is known as CWD Friends for Life conference month and among the exciting stuff on the agenda this year was news of progress on the iLET Bionic Pancreas system from Beta Bionics. Their Gen 4 iLET closed loop system is in clinical trials now.

We also reported on how the market for fast-acting glucagon products is getting a lot more interesting with a number of new options coming soon -- including a nasal spray product and a ready-to-use rescue pen filed with FDA in 2018 and expected to hit market in the next year!

Meanwhile, the FDA announced that it is building a new formal infrastructure for patient engagement, and some well-known faces in our Diabetes Community are already involved.

National honors were given to many of the folks involved in Diabetes Emergency Relief Efforts following the sequential natural disasters in 2017 that rocked the Gulf Coast and Caribbean islands. Kudos to all those who stepped up!

 

August

Another D-mom who tragically lost her T1D son launched a program called "Jesse Was Here" to support grieving diabetes community members. Thanks to the powerhouse non-profit Beyond Type 1 for taking this program under their wing, along with so many other initiatives. 

Dexcom made a key acquisition in Virginia-based startup TypeZero Technologies, a spin-off of University of Virginia closed loop technology research developing a closed-loop control algorithm run on a smartphone app. This acquisition makes Dexcom a full-fledged player in the race to create an Artificial Pancreas system, rather than simply a provider of one critical component (CGM). 

We investigated word that the long-awaited Roche Solo patch pump may finally be making it to market soon...?

The FDA approved a full 14 days of wear for the Abbott Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitor, a new type of CGM that's rocking some PWDs' worlds.

 

September

We published an in-depth review of Tandem's new BG predictive software called Basal IQ -- our team's own experience and also including glowing reviews from across the patient community. Some even called the system "frigging magical."

Diabetes care in prisons surfaced as a hot topic, with several new federal lawsuits filed, prompted by a few highly publicized deaths behind bars.

Our community lost a treasure in Dr. Lois Jovanovic, the Santa Babara-based endocrinologist who pioneered pregnancy care for women with diabetes. Lois changed so many lives with her warm manner and resilient spirit, that made healthy births possible for so many women who had lost hope. 

Our own mothership, Healthline Media, published a study looking into the "State of T2 Diabetes" that was unique in concentrating on the social and psychological aspects; we found it to be a real and true representation of life struggles with diabetes across the board. 

 

 

October

We had the chance to interview Tracey Brown, who in summer 2018 became the first female African-American CEO of the American Diabetes Association who is living with diabetes herself; she shared her personal story and what she envisions as a "gold start" for ADA.

Meanwhile, we learned in late October that D-Dad Derek Rapp would be stepping down next year as CEO of JDRF. In our interview with him, he was candid about what JDRF could do better.

In possibly one of the most exciting developments of the year, open data nonprofit Tidepool kicked off a project to officially support Loop, the currently DIY open source automated insulin delivery app for iPhone. This is BIG, because it marks the first time a crowdsourced DIY diabetes solution will morph into an "official" FDA-approved product, that can compete with offerings from established vendors.

The TV series 'The Resident' took on insulin pricing in a story line, and actually got it right. We interviewed the show's executive producer, who lives with type 1 himself and is one of three PWDs on staff of the popular medical drama.

Are we ready for Inhaled Insulin 3.0? Dance Pharmaceuticals based in the San Francisco Bay Area is quietly readying to launch a brand new "soft mist" formulation, i.e. an ultra-concentrated recombinant insulin that requires only a few drops that are vaporized into mist form as you breath it deep into the lungs through a small handheld device.

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And who needs peer support, anyway? Apparently all of us. During this Cancer Awareness Month, we heard from an impassioned Certified Diabetes Educator who lives with T1D herself, but never really appreciated peer support resources until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer too.

 

 

November

There's always a lot going on during National Diabetes Awareness Month and for World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14, and this year was no exception.

In early November, we were also thrilled to host our annual DiabetesMine Innovation Summit and D-Data ExChange technology forum, combined this year under a new "DIABETESMINE UNIVERSITY" theme. Read all about the amazing talks, workshops and demos here!

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Meanwhile, Mike attended the CWD Friends for Life conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and observed that Canadians are just as hungry for diabetes information, camaraderie and support as we are Stateside. 

Not surprising to many in our community, Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) officially scrapped its project to develop glucose-sensing contact lenses; apparently, "tear glucose and blood glucose don't correlate."

The popular next-gen "flash" glucose monitoring device Abbott Libre received US FDA approval for the LibreLink mobile app allowing users to scan the sensor directly from their smartphone, with no need to use the separate handheld receiver.

News also hit that OmniPod users will have smartphone control of that patch pump system before long -- an exciting option for insulin pumpers.

JDRF teamed up with a band of authorities to launch a "moonshot initiative" aimed at restoring vision in diabetes patients who've suffered eye-related complications. It's a longshot, but one well worth pursuing.

Miss America 2018 Brittany Wagner was on the road in the name of diabetes advocacy, in honor of her father who passed away in part from long-term D-complications a decade ago.

 

December

The legendary Dr. Fran Kaufman is stepping down as Chief Medical Officer of Medtronic Diabetes -- for personal and professional reasons. We talked with her all about it.

DiabetesMine was proud to announce that our original research article exploring the impact of social media engagement on life with diabetes is now live online at the Journal of Diabetes Science & Technology. The study, conducted last summer, is titled: "What Are PWDs (People with Diabetes Doing Online? A Netnographic Analysis."

We also looked into elder care for people with diabetes -- especially those on insulin -- and learned that it's kind of a trainwreck. Consider this a call to action that better elder care for people with T1D is sorely needed!

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And per tradition, we "called the diabetes advocacy organizations to the mat" at the end of the year by asking them to share with the community what they've achieved this year, and what they hope to accomplish in the new year ahead. Read all about their big 2018 milestones and 2019 goals here.

 

What about you, Dear Readers: Anything stand out in your minds from this past year that we might have missed? Let us know...

And while we're at it, we want to hear from you about how we're doing, striving to provide useful info and insights here at the 'Mine. As always, your input is more than welcome, so please send us your comments via email or ping us on social media.