- Singer Nick Jonas unveiled a new blood glucose monitoring system for people with type 1 diabetes during a Super Bowl ad.
- Experts say the Dexcom G7 CGM continuous blood monitoring system should make life easier for people with type 1 diabetes as well as caregivers.
- They noted that the price may be a barrier and that better insulin delivery systems need to be developed.
Somewhere in all the swirling Super Bowl Sunday commercial silliness about beer, soda, and cellular service was an announcement that could make a serious difference for people with type 1 diabetes.
Like many of the football game’s commercials, the ad was delivered by a celebrity, but in this case, he wasn’t trying too hard to be funny. He didn’t even try to sing the message.
San Diego-based Dexcom introduced its new G7 CGM continuous blood monitoring system with singer Nick Jonas, who has type 1 diabetes, telling the camera “This small thing is the next big thing.”
Then he seemingly flips the device up in the air, catches it, sticks it to his arm, and gets out his cell phone to start taking readings.
“It’s not magic, it just feels that way,” Jonas says, snapping his fingers and disappearing into a puff of black smoke.
Jonas was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 13, so he has some knowledge of the subject.
In a statement from Dexcom released last week, Jonas said “Dexcom CGM has changed my life and revolutionized the way I take care of my health.”
“People with diabetes – whether type 1 or type 2 – should have the best technology available to manage their disease, and with Dexcom G7, they’ll have it. I’m excited for the opportunity to share this new device with the world and to raise awareness around the magic of CGM,” the singer added.
“Raising awareness of this technology for the millions of Americans who need it is one key step toward ensuring people with diabetes have the best technology available to live beyond their diagnosis,” Jonas said.
Dexcom says its new G7 device is the most accurate and easy-to-use CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) device on the market.
One of its biggest selling points is not needing multiple daily finger pricks with a sharp lancet to get a blood glucose reading.
Finger pricks sometimes discourage people with diabetes from staying on top of their condition.
Dexcom officials said nearly 5 million people in the United States with diabetes who use insulin were expected to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl LVII. About 3 million of those viewers don’t currently use CGM to manage their diabetes.
The company also said the “low-profile, all-in-one wearable warms up faster than any other CGM on the market, sending real-time glucose readings automatically to a compatible smart device receiver, no painful fingersticks or burdensome scanning required.”
Company officials added that the warm-up time is 30 minutes, compared to most other CGM devices that can take an hour or more.
It also says it’s the only integrated CGM system “trusted for use during pregnancy, delivering better peace of mind to pregnant patients managing type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.”
As with any progression of medical technology, there are still issues to be worked out, experts say.
“CGM has been a total game-changer for people living with diabetes and even people without who want to prevent chronic disease,” Karen Kennedy, a certified nutritionist in Washington state specializing in metabolic health supporting the use of continuous glucose monitors, told Healthline.
“The G7 made some nice changes,” Kennedy noted. “The significant size reduction will be great for children particularly.”
“The convenience of this makes better glucose control so much easier for people,” she added. “For children, it’s a gotta-do, as you can monitor your children or other loved ones from other devices. This is lifesaving to many.”
Kennedy said, like most new medical technology, it probably won’t be cheap.
“I’ve not seen USA prices released. Dexcom states they are working to get identical insurance coverage for it, as the G6 which was either 100 percent coverage, or a co-pay of $40 a month for most with private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare,” Kennedy said. “The cash pay has always been high, starting at $700 a month.”
Angie Victorio is a certified diabetes care and education specialist at DiaBettr.com.
She told Healthline CGMs are also great for caregivers, who can help someone with diabetes adjust their diet and lower blood glucose levels.
“The patient benefits as well because they see in real-time how their lifestyle affects their blood sugar. For instance, they can know their blood sugar shortly after a certain meal or after taking a walk – and then adjust accordingly,” she said.
Victorio explained CGMs work by using a sensor that attaches to the skin with a small needle that enters just below the skin. The sensor measures glucose every one to five minutes and transmits readings to the app, which records it.
She said people with diabetes like the convenience. The fingerpick calibration test isn’t too painful but can be uncomfortable over time and can callous the finger.
“And the G7 is accurate enough that calibration is not required,” she said.
Victorio told Healthline that cost will be a factor in how many people use the G7.
“I imagine the G7 won’t be cheap because it’s brand new,” Victorio said. “Most or some of the costs of a CGM may be covered by health insurance but it depends on the provider and the specific plan. But without insurance, the CGM receiver and additional sensors/transmitters can cost anywhere from $200 to $500 a month.”
Kendra Cassillo, a senior communications program manager at Medtronic diabetes operating unit in Northridge, California, told Healthline the initial G7 unit will lack what can be an important component.
“Dexcom offers a standalone CGM, which does provide the benefit of real-time monitoring of blood sugar levels,” Cassillo said. “What it doesn’t do is automatically deliver insulin – based on those levels – to keep an individual from going too high or too low.”
“Several studies point to CGM alone not being enough and there is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates the benefits of automated insulin delivery pumps being the preferred option for individuals with type 1 diabetes to lower A1c and increase ‘time in range’ (the amount of time they do not have high or low blood sugar levels),” Cassillo said.
Perhaps that’s an advancement Nick Jonas will discuss during next year’s Super Bowl.