It’s been a whirlwind few days here at the 2009 American Diabetes Association annual conference in New Orleans. Consider:
- 389 oral presentations
- 100 clinical symposia (more science talks)
- 104 late-breaking abstracts (papers submitted after the conference program was filled up)
- 1,538 research posters
- 465 published abstracts (research synopses)
- 150+ exhibitors on one enormous exposition floor
In short, it’s been factual overload — beginning with the first thing I learned this weekend: I didn’t even know New Orleans was nicknamed ‘the Big Easy.’
So what kind of “wow’s” were being shown for insulin-dependent patients? Not a lot. Mostly stuff we saw already last year. Other than new decorative skins for several favorite pump and glucose meter models, the few exciting new products were a little “too new,” as in still filed under the “future: not available yet” tab:
* Mannkind’s new inhalable insulin Afresa is under review by the FDA, meaning that despite booking a sizable booth here at the show, the company was showing nothing but a bunch of research papers. No prototype. Not even a photo of the current delivery device (the image here is borrowed). Bugger! What they could say was that Afresa will be a “post-meal” treatment only; patients will be expected to use long-acting Lantus or Levemir in addition, if basal insulin is required. Hmm, so much for a completely needle-free lifestyle… See the study results they can brag on here. More on them soon, I hope.
* Oral-lyn insulin spray from Generex Biotechnology is currently in Phase 3 clinical trials. This one looks exactly like an asthma inhaler and I’m told that it’s also “post-meal” (bolus) treatment only. It has some very weird aspects to it, such as one puff=one unit of insulin. So if you’re a Type 2 who needs 15 or 20 units of insulin for a single meal, do you sit there sucking on it 20 times in a row? What if you get distracted and lose count? Not to mention the fact that said action wouldn’t exactly be “discrete” in a restaurant or at a party…? I really wonder if the patients in those positively reported Phase 2 trials actually had a social life (?)
* Medtronic’s new Paradigm Veo system, which I mentioned yesterday. It’s been launched in Europe, but is still awaiting FDA approval for launch in the US, and nobody’s venturing a guess at how long that might take. This one’s essentially Paradigm-plus, taking a combo pump/CGM device “one step closer to closed-loop system” by adding an algorithm that can automatically suspend insulin delivery if you don’t respond to the alarms alerting you to a low.
* Medtronic’s new patch pump design, which will compete with the OmniPod (!) There was no sniff of a prototype or image of this one on the Expo floor here, but the company apparently previewed its concept with select industry analysts last week. Here’s what I know so far, direct from Medtronic’s spokespeople:
• The ‘pod’ will be a two-part model, that allows you to temporarily disconnect without wasting the entire set or the insulin inside
• It will be smaller than the current OmniPod
• The design will be totally new, and will not resemble any existing MiniMed/Paradigm products
• Don’t expect this to be available commercially before the first quarter of 2011
Medtronic is also introducing a new Sof-Sensor for its Guardian CGM device. Goodbye, uncomfortable shell shape that needs to be plastered down with a huge adhesive. Hello, new white rectangle sensor made of foam-ish substance!
Other Hot Topics:
* In-hospital CGM: GluMetrics and Edwards Life Sciences are both (separately) working on new systems to significantly improve glucose monitoring/control in hospitalized patients. The recent NICE-SUGAR clinical study “illustrates the need for accurate and continuous glucose measurement in critically ill patients,” and also in well-controlled patients who might happen to need surgery. I sure as hell don’t want to have to worry about massive hyperglycemia in the hospital, not to mention severe lows. Kudos to these solutions!
* According to Dr. Francesco Rubino, “bariatric surgery may now be renamed to ‘metabolic surgery’ because it’s really directed at improving diabetes – the weight loss may be an additional benefit rather than the primary goal.” This from an interview conducted by Close Concerns. The ADA is endorsing “a new, more drastic treatment” for surgery candidates. See this ScienceLine story for details.
And did you know…
* Roche & Novo Nordisk are teaming up with the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) to provide support for children with diabetes in developing countries? The program, called Changing Diabetes for Children, kicked off in five developing countries starting April 15. (Awesome! But it’s not clear what happens to supported kids who are cut loose from the program at age 18?)
* Sanofi-Aventis posted sales of Lantus for 2008 at $3.6 billion, and has announced plans to DOUBLE Lantus sales by 2012! (confirmed by spokespeople at the show)
* Type 1 race car driver Charlie Kimball is collaborating with American Diabetes Wholesale to bring you a new diabetes contest called GlucoStories: you just submit your story in text format to the website, and you could win a trip to the Homestead-Miami Speedway to attend Charlie’s Oct. 9 championship race, a signed Charlie Kimball helmut, or (of course) a $250 gift card for American Diabestes Wholesale online store. Enter by July 6, 2009.
So, hit your factual overload zone yet?