As we count down the days to the end of the year, here's a round up of 10 diabetes products, drugs, gadgets, and insights that occurred in 2012.
Many of these tell me that companies are listening harder to patients' wants and desires. And with any luck, all of these will make life a little better in 2013 for the 26 million Americans with diabetes.
- Tandem's t:slim insulin pump. The first insulin pump with a touch screen interface that's bright, gorgeous and emulates the look and feel of an iPhone/iPad. Slim enough to fit into your jeans pocket, Tandem also says its insulin delivery system provides greater accuracy and more precise dosing.
- Dexcom's G4 Continuous Glucose Monitor. Dexcom has for many years been most patients' continuous glucose monitor of choice. Now with its fourth generation CGM, the G4 features an extended 20-foot range, a smaller and more accurate sensor, and a more attractive receiver that comes in three different colors and has a color display so you can more immediately see your blood sugar highs and lows and recognize how you're trending.
- iBGStar mobile glucose monitor. We saw it coming, and it came, from Sanofi. A blood glucose meter, smaller than a stick of gum, that fits into your iPhone, increasing the odds that you'll actually have it with you. With its own app, you can download your blood sugar numbers, see your patterns and email your results to your health care provider. You can also use the iBGStar alone, separate of an iPhone.
- Smaller OmniPod. The FDA finally approved Insulet's next-generation OmniPod tubeless pump. It's 30 percent smaller, 40 percent lighter and coming out early next year.
- Poor vision aided by iPads and Kindles. Research suggests backlit tablets like iPad and e-readers help patients who suffer some diabetes-related vision problems to read. This may help the millions of people who suffer from diabetes eye diseases like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
- Lucentis, new drug for diabetic macular edema. The FDA approved the drug Lucentis from Genetech, the first major treatment for diabetic macular edema. Diabetic macular edema (DME) may occur as a result of high blood sugars over time when fluid leaks into the retina, the part of the eye where straight-forward vision occurs. DME can cause blurry vision and vision loss. Lucentis is administered as a once-a-month injection.
- SENSUS pain killer for diabetic neuropathy. Medical device company NeuroMetrix recently gained FDA approval so that it can make its SENSUS device widely available. SENSUS transmits transcutaneous electrical stimulation to alleviate chronic pain in the lower leg and foot, often caused by the neurological complications of diabetes. The device is worn on the upper calf and generates an electric current that stops nerve pain signals from reaching the brain.
- MRI brain scans reveal empathy helps manage pain. Not surprisingly, at least not to me, researchers discovered that when doctors listen and express empathy, patients end up both more satisfied with their visit, and healthier. And now they can point to MRI brain scans that showed a neurobiological link: Patients who were treated by empathetic doctors were better able to tolerate pain. While it was a small study, it seems intuitive as well as biological.
- Treating Pre-Diabetes Can Prevent Diabetes. Good news for the almost 80 million Americans with pre-diabetes. The latest observations from the ongoing Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study show that a key to preventing diabetes in people with pre-diabetes is enabling insulin-producing beta cells to rest, even briefly, and restore normal blood sugar regulation. This protects the beta cells from exhaustion and death. So apparently, the key to diabetes prevention is not how the disease is prevented, but restoring normal glucose regulation, even briefly through lifestyle changes and possible medication.
- T1D Exchange accelerates Type 1 diabetes research. The T1D Exchange has established a unique model to speed better treatments, therapies and research for Type 1 diabetes. Created through funding from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and consisting of a network of 69 clinics across the U.S., a biorepository, Clinical Registry and the social media site, Glu, that launched this past November, the T1D Exchange fosters faster and more fluid information-transfer and sharing among diabetes patients and clinical, research, pharma, medical device, education and outreach organizations.
Disclosure: I was not asked to write about any of these products, nor compensated in any way. I attended a press conference for the launch of the iBGStar, where I was given one as a sample.
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Riva's new book, Diabetes Dos & How-Tos, was released this month, along with 50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It and The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes. Riva speaks to patients and health care providers about flourishing with diabetes. Visit her website DiabetesStories.com.