Smaller, lighter, niftier and easier to use while still containing both more features and more advanced features. These are some of the key characteristics of new devices being developed to make the management of diabetes more effective by being more "patient-friendly."
As perhaps the most recent example, Animas (West Chester, Pennsylvania), a manufacturer of insulin pumps, said it will launch its newest pump, the Animas IR 1250, in the first half of this month, providing two new features to upgrade its previous 1250 model that will offer critical carbohydrate information and another to allow users to make a bit of a fashion statement.
The company said the IR 1250 is "another step toward Animas' quest to make diabetes management easier." Intensive management of diabetes requires that people with the disease administer insulin to compensate for carbohydrates ingested, the company said, and Animas is trying to make those carbohydrates easier to count.
Specifically, the product incorporates a food database of up to 500 items to make carbohydrate counting particularly important for patients with diabetes easier. Also, the pump offers tunes instead of beeps when it is time for the patient to bolus, or inject insulin.
"Among the small differences, it has a food database that can be downloaded via Calorie King, which is the most widely accepted book on carb counting and calories and fat," Audrey Finkelstein, executive vice president of Animas, told Diagnostics & Imaging Week. "It can download 500 items, so instead of having to carry that book around with them, they have it just as the touch of a button."
Those items are pre-loaded into the pump by Animas because some people are not techno-friendly. But for those who want to take fully advantage of this feature, a patient can download as many as they like, although Finkelstein said, "most people eat around 50 different foods." And those entries can be customized for each patient.
"If you know that every time you go to your favorite pizzeria, and you figure out how many carbs there are in a slice of pizza there, you don't have to remember, you can add it in," she said.
Another reason customization is important, she said, is that "so much in carb counting is trial and error."
Not only does the pump provide a database for researching carb counts, which can be done while eating, it also can add the carbohydrates in up to nine items in a meal. The device automatically calculates the number of carbs and the insulin ratio, which instructs the patient on how much to bolus, completing all of the calculations for the patient.
Animas said the IR 1250 "follows in the footsteps of earlier generations of Animas pumps with its waterproof integrity, ease of use, long battery life and advanced features for more precise insulin delivery." But it also offers another feature alarms that sound as a choice of tunes rather than beeps.
CEO Katherine Crothall said, "Many people, particularly teenagers, wish to be discreet with their diabetes, and using tunes in lieu of beeps help[s] them achieve this goal. Our IR1250 pump not only looks like a small cellphone, but it now sounds like one as well."
As Finkelstein pointed out, the last thing any teenager wants is to be seen as different. So if a beep goes off in a classroom or the movies or another social situation, they may have to explain to those around them what the beeps are. With tunes, it will sound just like a cellphone. There are also stickers to put on the phone.
"There are very few choices that you have when you have diabetes," Finkelstein said. "So, the things that you can choose are the colors that you can make the pump or the different stickers that you could put on."
One thing that she never expected, she said, was to see middle-aged men and women also making the same fashionable choices for their pump.
The IR1250 model pump will cost the same as the IR 1200 pump, or about $5,000. There won't really be any difference in the way Animas markets the device.
And it won't be the last pump that Animas develops.
"We continue to strive for greater advancements in diabetes management as reflected in our recent acquisition of MicroPump and MicroNeedle technology from Debiotech [Lausanne, Switzerland]." Crothall said. "Our significant progress in developing a more accurate glucose sensor, our continued advancements in insulin pump development and our micro technology take us yet another step closer toward a viable closed-loop system."