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Hello and welcome to Diabetes Connections In the News! I’m Stacey Simms and these are the top diabetes stories and headlines of the past seven days. As always, I’m going to link up my sources in the Facebook comments – where we are live – we are also Live on YouTube and in the show notes at d-c dot com when this airs as a podcast..
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Our top story this week.. More good news for mice.. and maybe some day for people. Yale researchers are looking at an oral medication for type 1 diabetes. These lucky mice had metabolic function restored and inflammation reversed. There are a lot of studies going on to make oral insulin work – liquid insulin is destroyed in the stomach before it hits the bloodstream. This research involves a nanoparticle drug vehicle that can not only bring insulin to the pancreas safely, but the casing itself has therapeutic benefits. It’s made out of an acid that seems to reduce the rogue immune cells that destroy the beta cells in the first place. The team says that the nanoparticles could also be used to carry other molecules, which could help with other conditions.
A new tubeless pump is making its way through the US regulatory process. The FDA gives breakthrough device designation to AMF Medical’s Sigi (SIG-ee) Insulin Management System. This is a patch pump, like Omnipod, but it’s rechargeable and re-usable – you get two so you don’t have to go without while it’s charging.
It’s also an ACE pump, that’s alternate control enabled which means it can interact with CGMs and controller devices like smartphones. This designation isn’t FDA approval, but it should speed up the review. In the press release the company says, “Clinical study data has shown that Sigi™ is delightfully easy to use.” Which is kind of a nice thing to see in a write up like this.
Big news from the UK this week – they announced everyone in England with type 1 will be eligible for CGMs covered by the National Health Service there. This was preceeded by coverage for the Libre flash glucose monitor. That program was supposed to start at 20% but almost 50% of people with type 1 have opted in and the results in terms of better health and lower a1cs have really been outstanding. Next up, leaders there say they want CGM covered for anyone using insulin, regardless of diabetes type.
New research into insulin pricing is shining a light on the middle men.. many of us have known about PBMs for a long time. Researchers at USC found that drugmakers’ share of revenue from insulin sales has dropped in recent years — and a greater share is being siphoned off by pharmacy benefit managers, drugstores, wholesalers and insurers. In 2014, 30% of insulin revenue went to PBMs. By 2018, those same middlemen were receiving 53%. Terrific write up as usual by David Lazurs in the LA Times – he lives with type 1 and I always love his stuff. I’ll link this one up. The researchers here say since the PBMs are getting a greater share, there’s pressure on the drug’s manufacturers to keep raising prices so their own profits don’t suffer. It’s worth noting that these findings were possible because of newer state laws bringing greater transparency to insulin sales.
What works to bring down the price of insulin? Ask China. They decided a round of price cuts is due and as a result, 42 insulin products from companies in China and abroad took an average 48% price drop. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been used in that country’s public hospitals. Lilly gave up the largest discount: After a 75% reduction, the price of Humalog went down to about $3 per pen. China has been making pharma cut prices for the last few years for other medications. This is the first time insulin has really been affected.
Bigfoot releases some information and reaction to their Clinic Hub. This is how endos and clinics use the data from the Bigfoot Unity System to support patients. Unity launched this summer – it’s their smart pen program. When you think about multiple daily injections whether it’s for type 1 or type 2.. it’s hard for health care providers to see what’s going on day to day.. are doses correct, when they’re giving, etc. Unity can also include CGM data. This is the launch phase of Clinic Hub.. Bigfoot says they’ve also added streamlined patient onboarding and more flexibility for patient updates and prescription management.
I’m including the Vertex news here.. we reported this back in October but you probably had everyone you know send you that New York Times article about a cure for type 1 – at least in one guy.. I won’t rehash everything here.. it’s about stem cells, one patient off insulin but on immunosuppressive drugs.. Personally, I’m very hopeful, but the Times write up overly simplified a lot of this, in my opinion. Good write up in Healthline that I’ll link to.
In the UK lots of attention on their Strictly Come Dancing competition… when it became apparent contestant Nikita Kuzmin wasn’t hiding the Libra glucose monitor on his arm. He wasn’t hiding much.. he took off his shirt for this performance. Loads of social media comments applauding him.. for both. By the way, his dance partner, Tilly Ramsey is the daughter of professional chef Gordon Ramsey.. and they were eliminated from the show this round.
quick reminder that the podcast this week is with the UK co-lead on diabetes, Dr Partha Kar. We had a great chat about access and their Libre program and his whole philosophy.. really fun episode. Next week you’ll hear from the folks at ConvaTec, they make almost all the pump insets and they have some great info for us all.
you can listen to wherever you get your podcasts or if you’re listening to this as on a podcast app, just go back an episode.
That’s In the News for this week.. if you like it, please share it! Thanks for joining me! See you back here soon.