The FDA has cleared a new diabetes glucose meter that further simplifies blood sugar monitoring for those with diabetes.

Medtronic's (Minneapolis) OneTouch UltraLink meter transmits glucose readings directly to the company's MiniMed Paradigm insulin pumps and the Guardian Real-Time Continuous Glucose Monitoring System, making dosing more accurate and easier for patients compared to traditional manual entry of blood glucose readings, according to the company.

"It allows for the meter to transmit the information, by radio frequency, to the pump," Medtronic's chief medical officer, Alan Marcus, MD, told Diagnostics & Imaging Week. "More importantly, it allows the meter to be part of an information system, Carelink [a remote patient monitoring system operated by Medtronic]. It's a way of enabling people to get the information quickly and use it in an effective manner."

CareLink software integrates meter, logbook, insulin pump and real-time continuous glucose monitoring information to help patients and physicians more easily assess and manage diabetes.

Medtronic is providing the OneTouch UltraLink Meter to all of its customers, free of charge. All new U.S. customers who order a MiniMed Paradigm Real-Time System or Guardian Real-Time System will receive the OneTouch UltraLink Meter at no charge as well.

The new, automatic meter requires no special training or installation, according to Marcus, an endocrinologist.

"Even doctors can use it," he said, in a not-so-subtle dig at the technology-challenged of his own profession. "You just turn it on and it leads you right through the process. The first time I had to do it with a patient, I hadn't read the user manual and, here I am with a patient, trying to show him how to do it. I took it out of the container, put a strip in, and it asks you to do everything you need to do.

"It requires very little blood and that was nice because I wind up obtaining blood from my own digits to demonstrate to patients."

Patients test their blood sugar as normal. Once that number appears on the meter, it's sent to the pump and is displayed on the pump as well. It can then be downloaded to the Carelink system, where more information can be added about what they have eaten, number of carbohydrates consumed, activity, and so forth.

"It allows for a complete picture so that they can modify what they are doing and know how to better manage their diabetes," Marcus said. "Anyone with diabetes does better if they monitor their blood sugar. They can improve diabetes care and get closer or within normal glucose targets. Without knowing what's happening, you can't make changes. I remember the first self-monitoring glucose device 20 years ago and it was anything but simple. This device is simple to use."

The device is produced by Medtronic's diabetes unit, Medtronic Diabetes (Northridge, California).