With the New Year just days away, we're keeping up our tradition of reviewing what made this past year, 2017, one to remember in the Diabetes World and here at the 'Mine.
Hot topics have ranged from the launch of new insulins and the first-ever semi-automated closed loop system, to Medicare coverage for CGM for the first time ever.
Yet, uncertainties around access and affordability have been a dark cloud over all of the innovations. Not to mention the decisions by Roche and JnJ Animas to stop selling pumps here in the USA. It's a crazy time in our D-World!
So if we had to boil it down to a single theme, the 2017 message might have to be: A New Beginning, If Accessible...
We also asked the Twitter community to chime in on what word or phrase they might use to describe 2017 in the context of everything diabetes. Some of the responses included: Aspirational, Cautiously Optimistic, Resilient, Improving-with-Technology, Inaccessible, Expensive, Statis, Disappointing, #WeAreNotWaiting, and #MakeDiabetesVisibile.
Clearly, opinions may vary much like Your Diabetes May Vary.
With that D-Community feedback in mind, here's a look at what stood out to us in 2017, month-by-month (and yes, we are keeping this post up for a two-day stretch to ensure all have a chance to go through it, given 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 2018.
Big news came that Medicare would finally start covering certain CGMs (continuous glucose monitors). While it's only the Dexcom G5 thanks to the FDA's dosing designation, and challenge remain due to Medicare's reluctance to allow people to use the CGM smartphone app, this was a big step forward for our D-Community.
Two big diabetes business stories emerged at the start of the year, with Roche Diabetes Care announcing it would stop selling insulin pumps in the U.S., and then JnJ announcing it was evaluating the future of its Animas insulin pump division, along with its LifeScan and OneTouch brands.
Our Diabetes Community also lost an incredible advocate and celebrity force, in the passing of Mary Tyler Moore. The accomplished actress was fellow type 1 who raised awareness at every turn, and a cultural icon from the 70s and 80s, and we'll miss her greatly.
Top diabetes medical researchers and scientists were tackling the different types of diabetes, as well as how prediabetes is viewed at a policy level. We talked with Dr. Robert Ratner about this, as it turned out, just as we was announcing his retirement as Chief Medical Officer of the American Diabetes Association.
A slew of lawsuits over insulin pricing popped up in federal courts, challenging the Big Insulin Makers' practices and how Payers (insurance companies) and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) all play a part in the (un)affordable insulin crisis that exists in America today.
Implantable insulin pumps aren't talked about much these days, but we noted that they are still alive and even getting a fresh infusion of innovation by some in the diabetes med-tech universe.
Big diabetes research donation news hit for the City of Hope, in which a Wisconsin family donated more than $50 million (!) toward finding a diabetes cure in six years. While skeptics may be... well, skeptical, the donation was one for the books and worth talking about.
The first-ever official exercise guidelines for T1D came out from top medical folk with the aim of helping us PWDs strive for fitness safely and effectively.
We also had some fun handing out our now-annual Diabetes Community Oscar awards for the 2016-17 year... celebrating the good and also taking a critical look at the not-so-good aspects of our D-universe.
The American Diabetes Association hired Dr. William Cefalu as the org's newest chief medical and science guy, and we published an exclusive interview with him about his background and plans for the ADA.
Have you heard? There's a whole crop of new mobile apps that calculate insulin dosages, and we took a look at those in the context of how the FDA is changing its evaluation processes for these treatment tools in this mHealth day and age.
The "black box" around how Pharmacy Benefit Mangers (PBMs) operate brings a lot of frustration for patients, and frankly, everyone in many areas of healthcare and insurance. We at the 'Mine launched an effort got to take a look at these PBMs and look inside that black box, with our #PBMsExposed initiative.
Artificial Intelligence is all the now, and chatted with DiabNext about its Clipsulin concept and fuller AI-based diabetes system, and how that could bring a whole new way of D-management before long.
Sadly, an all-too-common story these days is people actually dying due to not being able to access or afford insulin. We were grateful to able to attend a Lilly-sponsored workshop on this painful issue of insulin access. Much remains to be done to address this nationwide crisis.
Wow, we hit the 10-year mark of our Open Letter to Steve Jobs that kicked off our whole DiabetesMine Innovation Project. Amazing to see how much has changed and evolved in mobile health and consumer electronics beginning to merge with diabetes tech innovations!
We helped introduce a new all-inclusive meter that snaps on to a smartphone from POPS! Diabetes Care, which won a prestigious diabetes innovation award with its interesting new D-tech concept.
A fellow type 1 Martha Clark took over as the top exec of the American Diabetes Association, stepping into the interim CEO role as the diabetes org navigates some of the most pressing and challenging advocacy and polical times it's likely ever seen.
Everyone's favorite (and only) inhaled insulin company MannKind has been the subject of uncertainty, but it got a boost of energy by sponsoring new reality TV shows. Will that help the bottom line for Afrezza insulin? That's still TBD, but we're keeping our fingers crossed!
Our community lost longtime diabetes advocate David Mendosa, a gentleman with T2D who was considered one of the pioneers of the Diabetes Online Community more than a decade ago. RIP, our dear friend.
For the 8th year in a row, our DOC marked Diabetes Blog Week with dozens of bloggers sharing stories each day on a specific prompt. So many strong and diverse voices, which is what our wonderful community is all about!
Mike took a vacation to Canada and along the way got to visit the historic Banting House, where insulin co-discoverer Dr. Frederick Banting once lived and actually came up with the idea for insulin. It's a pretty interesting place now converted to a museum and tourist attraction.
Show Me The Data! That's what open-source org Tidepool is all about, especially after launching a diabetes data donation initiative that will allow more incredible insights by researchers from all of this D-Data streaming around the cloud.
Another summer, another American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions. Of course, there was a whole mess of new science as well as big important issues discussed, along with the hottest new D-tech on display for those attending the conference in San Diego for several days.
And yes, DiabetesMine held its #DData17 event for the summer -- an incredible afternoon of innovation talk and idea-sharing.
Sad news that we had to say goodbye to the Diabetes Hands Foundation, though fortunately the new powerhouse nonprofit Beyond Type 1 group took over some of the programming, such as the TuDiabetes online network.
As a first in the nation, Nevada passed a drug pricing transparency law -- aimed at insulin, specifically. There was some debate and division within the Diabetes Community about just how influential this law will be once it takes effect, but it's clearly is a sign of the times as many states nationwide are exploring this big issue in the face of skyrocketing medication prices.
Facebook held a special summit for its most influential groups, and embraced our #WeAreNotWaiting community in the diabetes universe, inviting three representatives from the ever-growing CGM in the Cloud group.
Automated insulin delivery startup Bigfoot Biomedical made news in signing an agreement with Abbott Diabetes Care to integrate the next-generation Freestyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring system into its future closed loop developments.
Roche Diabetes Care acquired mySugr, bringing the legacy meter company a fresh concept for diabetes data going forward, and setting the precedent that Big Pharma can and will embrace entrepreneurial diabetes startups.
Our own Wil Dubois offered his First Impressions of the new Medtronic Minimed 670G, the first hybrid closed loop (pre Artificial Pancreas) system in the world. He offered a deeper look later in the year after trial-testing the Auto Mode for a bit longer as well.
The Children With Diabetes (CWD) org held its annual Friends For Life conference at Disney in Orlando, marking another magical experience for the thousands attending this summer.
Hey, Alexa, what's my blood sugar? Yep, that's a question many can ask these days as diabetes tech is right there in the mix with glucose monitors making the jump into voice recognition technology.
Tandem's future has been uncertain, but good news came with news that the FDA approved the t:slim X2 insulin pump that can communicate with the Dexcom G5 CGM! This is the first pump able to do that now.
As the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) held its yearly meeting, the organization went digital and looked to technology in helping diabetes education while also taking a moment to celebrate the D-Educator of the Year from Detroit, Davida Kruger.
Ugh, after announcing it would stop selling pumps in the U.S., Roche Diabetes Care announced it would be handing its remaining American pump customers over to Medtronic... This stung for many, as less choice for PWDs is never something we like to see.
As summer came to a close, a series of devastating hurricanes wreaked havoc on our country's mainland, nearby islands, and Mexico. That put our Diabetes Community into Disaster Mode, forcing all of us to deal with crisis of no insulin where desperately need, but we also saw incredible spirit and generosity arise in the face of such horrible natural disasters.
Big news came with FDA approval of the Abbott Freestyle Libre system, the to require no calibrations and bringing a new type of diabetes technology to the U.S. Our own Wil Dubois eventually got his hands on one to test-drive, and shared some initial thoughts on this new type of continuous glucose monitor.
A faster-acting Fiasp insulin from Novo also snagged regulatory clearance, meaning that by the end of the year, we PWDs in woudn't have to travel across the border to Canada or other places to get our hands on this faster insulin.
Speaking of insulin... the first #insulin4all protest took place in front of Eli Lilly's Indianapolis headquarters and our own Mike Hoskins was on hand, wearing his personal advocacy and raising his voice over the high cost of insulin. Others protests are expected at Sanofi and Novo soon, too.
There's also been a wave of advocacy to move "Beyond A1C," meaning that drugs and devices and even clinical trials should no longer be evaluated solely on that traditional three-month average result but would look at other things such as Quality of Life, time in range, hypoglycemia, etc... you know, important life stuff that affects us every single day. New consensus definitions have now been released, taking this conversation to a new policy-making level as we head into 2018.
More commercial D-devices are opening their minds and tech to the tinkerers out there, and this month we saw both the makers of the DANA RS insulin pump overseas and Dexcom's CGM embrace that #WeAreNotWaiting ecosystem by opening their back-end technology to innovators. We hope more companies will follow their lead!
Not even a month after the above moves by industry on embracing open source principals, the JDRF solidified its own push to move forward on encouraging open protocols for diabetes devices. Amen!
The FDA made a huge step forward on handling mobile health, by announcing a new software pre-certification program that includes D-startup Tidepool in its pilot program to accelerate reviews of digital health tools. Yay!
But bad news came with the end of Animas. This month, JnJ announced it had made the business decision to shut down its insulin pump division immediately in both the U.S. and Canada (and it would probably being doing the same overseas before long). This hurts.
Inhaled insulin Afrezza got some welcome news, with new labeling that some believe would allow for more efficient prescribing habits for doctors, and easier dosing for patients. We shall see...
Diabetes Awareness Month arrived again, with many thinking we really needed a whirlwind of awareness-raising and advocacy more than ever -- especially with the level of misinformation that's been out there recently.
Lilly Diabetes announced it was moving into the diabetes tech space in ways it hasn't before, developing a hybrid patch-tubed pump as well as a connected smart insulin pen.
Our community said goodbye to R. Keith Campbell, a longtime T1 who devoted his career to making the diabetes education world a better place.
Even with its 670G on the market now, Medtronic has been plagued by manufacturing delays that became a topic of much frustration in the DOC during the past several months. This was a combo effect of an earlier-than-expected approval in Fall 2016, a slower-than-promised device launch, and Hurricane Maria's damage that crippled the company's manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico.
We held our signature DiabetesMine Innovation events at Stanford Medical School, bringing empowered patients, industry innovators and thought-leaders together for two days of discussion and idea sharing -- our biannual #DiabetesMine D-Data ExChange, followed by our annual Innovation Summit the next day. We were also thrilled to announce our DiabetesMine Usability Innovation Awards for 2017!
Sanofi got news that it's "follow-on" Admelog insulin is now approved, making it the first "generic" version of Humalog to be released here in the States. No word yet on pricing before the early 2018 launch, but hopefully we'll see a lower price-tag attached to this short-acting insulin.
Companion Medical's InPen finally launched! This is the first Bluetooth-enabled smart pen of its kind and sets a new stage, even if there is a bit of sticker-shock on how much it'll cost without insurance.
Dexcom launched its new touchscreen receiver, the first full redesign in about five years that brings a fresh design for those using the Dexcom G5 Mobile system.
Internet-researcher and thought-leader Susannah Fox launched a new Peer Health Advice video that she hopes fits into a broader campaign to encourage peer-support -- much like she's observed being so darn successful in the Diabetes Online Community!
Speaking of online communities, the unfortunate word came down that the FCC took a swipe against Net Neutrality and put Internet freedom in jeopardy... ((sigh))
The D-Community Says...
Speaking of community input, as noted we asked the DOC to offer feedback on their observations about this past year. We heard quite a range of good and bad, from excitement to disappointment.
Here's how longtime type 1 Tom Goffe in North Carolina feels about the past year of diabetes news, summing up a theme many have echoed across the D-Community:
"With the possible exception of basal management in the 670G, I’ve not really seen any substantive, paradigmatic changes in technology, medications or treatment this year that have had a noticeable impact on the daily life of people with diabetes. This specifically applies to all people, not just those blessed with access to the latest and greatest tools. Fundamental problems with insulin cost, access to care and knowledge of how to successfully apply basic tools remain. We need to step back and see the big picture if we are to truly be an inclusive community."
We hear you, Tom.
As exciting as new innovations and approvals can be, none of it means much if people can't access or afford it. That's become something of a drumbeat underlying D-news stories and announcements during 2017, and clearly will carry into 2018.
Yet, we remain optmistic and strive to do what we can to move the needle on improving life for PWDs. Here's to a hopeful New Year!
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 comment or email us!