Five advancements in diabetes treatment to watch
Here’s a close look at five advances in diabetes treatments, including new medications and those in the pipeline.
1. Glucose monitoring devices
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and connected blood glucose monitoring (cBGM) devices provide actionable data to guide people with diabetes and their providers. “As a technology, CGM provides nearly continuous glucose measurements in real time, which translates to almost 300 readings a day for providers to review and respond [to] with therapeutic adjustments,” says Andrew S. Rhinehart, MD, chief medical officer, Glytec. “Presently, CGM is mainly used for individuals with type 1 diabetes, but that may change over time depending upon reimbursement and outcomes data for people with type 2 diabetes.”
New CGM systems, such as the Dexcom G5 Mobile CGM system and Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre, consist of a small disposable sensor that is inserted into the skin. A transmitter connected to the sensor wirelessly sends results to a receiver that displays real-time glucose information, explains Stephenie Lucas, MD, medical director of the diabetes treatment center at Beaumont Health, Grosse Pointe, Michigan. These devices require fingersticks as infrequently as twice a day for calibration and users can safely and conveniently access and share their dynamic glucose data anywhere and anytime.
FreeStyle Libre is now available across 32 countries around the world, although still under FDA review in the U.S. The professional version of the system, FreeStyle Libre Pro, is approved in the U.S. and was launched toward the end of 2016.
cBGMs include meters with cellular or Bluetooth capabilities that allow blood glucose data to be transmitted to the cloud, making it easily accessible to providers. “This allows for better patient engagement, and if acted upon properly, better patient outcomes,” Rhinehart says. The first cellular meter was launched by Telcare in 2010.
Diabetes therapy management software with decision support for dosing and titration is the final piece of the therapeutic puzzle. In concert with data made available through CGM and cBGM, this software can help providers properly dose and titrate diabetes medications, especially insulin, and choose which diabetes mediations may work best for each patient. Diabetes therapy management software, in its earliest form, was launched by Glytec in 2006.
“For most providers, this is the most challenging aspect of diabetes management, but also the most important,” Rhinehart says. “Having providers choose the right medications and making the necessary dosing adjustments in a timely manner is critical to achieving and maintaining acceptable A1c levels. The combination of connected devices and this type of therapy management software may be the holy grail of personalized diabetes management.”