Smart insulin pen tech is all the rage these days.
In recent years, we've seen a number of companies developing gadgets to make insulin pens smarter so they can track dosing, share that data and more. Those include Timesulin, the NovoPen Echo smart pen, The Bee, the Gocap from Common Sensing, and Companion Medical's fully featured InPen under development, backed by Eli Lilly. And most recently, BD announced its own plans for next-gen tech that includes a Bluetooth-enabled smart pen cap. Very cool stuff.
The Tel Aviv, Israel-based company has kicked off an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and has raised just shy of $7,000 of its $40,000 goal so far.
The founder, Menash Michael, shares that he was diagnosed at age 18 -- a week before going into the Israeli military!
"I noticed I was losing a lot of weight and was extremely thirsty," he shared with us via email. "Usually diabetics have special permission to be released from army duty, but I volunteered and finished my service."
Since his diagnosis, Menash said he's been keeping tabs on how much insulin he takes and the time of his last dose, mostly using pen and paper until creating his new company.
"I always thought there should be an easier way to do this, especially in the times that we're living in," he says. "About three years ago, I accidentally overdosed on insulin by taking a double dose, which resulted in me needing emergency assistance. From there, the idea for Insulog was born."
His new tool is still in design stages, but if all goes according to plan with development and crowdfunding, Menash hopes to submit it for FDA regulatory approval in the US and abroad as early as January 2017 (!).
We have to wonder how realistic that timeline is, but hey, more power to the Insulog team for their ambition.
How Insulog Compares
Insulog is a snap-on device that clips to the insulin pen, compatible with any type of insulin pen on the market. It uses "smart sensors" to automatically detect dosing action, and a small display screen shows how much insulin you've taken and your last dosing time. Using built-in Bluetooth connectivity and a proprietary algorithm, it automatically streams the data to a companion smartphone app (available for both Android and Apple, we're told) for easy viewing and data-sharing with physicians.
The app stores your entire injection history, and you can also key in blood sugar data for a more complete logging solution. With all the connected devices out there now, we would guess that it's only a matter of time before tools like this synch with wireless BG meters, CGMs and even fitness trackers.
Here's an intro video about the new Insulog system:
Of course, we grilled Insulog about how their device differs from other existing insulin pen tracking tools. Here's what Menash tells us:
Timesulin - Records only the time passed since the last injection, but doesn't log the amount that was administered. It also doesn't log the entire injection history. In contrast, Insulog automatically records all that information and sends it to the app, making it a more comprehensive tool.
The Bee - Much bigger than Insulog and users have to manually record how much insulin they've injected. In contrast, Insulog uses smart sensors to automatically log/record insulin dose amounts.
Gocap -- Similar to Insulog (although a bit bigger), Menash says, "I do see a bit of an issue with the removable 'cap' part of this one. Users might forget the cap on surfaces and can potentially lose it." In contrast, Insulog snaps onto the body of the pen with a tight fit and never needs to be removed, except when transferring to another insulin pen.
OK, good to know.
We still get tripped up a bit by the name, Insulog, which is simultaneously oversimplified and hard to pronounce. But then again, the quest for clever names is eternal (see: Timesulin, Gocap, InPen, The Bee...)
We have to admit that Insulog has created some fun marketing stuff. They used this meme created by our friend and fellow diabetes advocate Kayla Brown in a pitch to potential customers:
Is this you when trying to remember when you took your last dose?
That's certainly a quandary that all of us insulin-dependents can relate to!
How Effective Are Smart Pen Caps?
Meme-chuckles aside, the serious questions are: Why so many smart pen cap developers? Is there really such a big market for these? And is there any data on how much they help improve outcomes?
Common Sensing, the Cambridge, MA-based makers of Gocap, has taken the lead on research, kicking off a study with Joslin Diabetes Center in mid-October. In partnership with Sanofi and Dexcom, the study will measure insulin pen use and CGM response around the clock for 125 participants in real-world settings.
"The aim is to use the data to support the development of an intervention model for diabetes patients, which does not currently exist... to make it easier for primary care physicians to have more meaningful interactions with patients in the short time they have together," MedCity News reports.
They clarify: "The plan is to turn the 'Gocap' monitor and other connected devices into a targeted service to improve insulin management."
That article also quotes Common Sensing President and Co-Founder James White saying, "This market segment is too young for any one company to dominate."
For a long time, it seemed the biggest innovations in diabetes tools were all related to insulin pumps. But these days, there's almost a wave of renewed interest in patients on Multiple Daily Injections/Doses.
That's somewhat refreshing, even though we can't argue with the benefits of insulin pumping.
It's all about choice and giving people access to the best possible tools, so we're happy to see yet another entrepreneurial effort working to bring smart insulin pen technology to the masses.