FDA Approves the First Artificial Pancreas

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Finally we have a breakthrough for diabetes type 1 management! The FDA has just approved the artificial pancreas – new technology aimed at helping those suffering from diabetes type 1 cope with their condition. About 1.25 million children and adults in the United States have type 1 diabetes, so this is exciting news for a lot of people.

This artificial pancreas is also known as an automated insulin delivery device. It’s like an insulin pump but WAY smarter. An automated insulin delivery device works by continuously monitoring a patient’s glucose levels, and adjusting the patient’s insulin levels as needed.

What is the significance of this approval?

This approval is a first-of-its-kind technology! This is exciting news because it gives individuals with type 1 diabetes greater freedom to live their lives without worrying about glucose levels and insulin.

What is the device?

The automated insulin delivery device, or artificial pancreas, is made by MedTronics. It is called the MiniMed 670G.

The MiniMed 670G is for use in type 1 diabetic patients 14 years of age, and older.

How does the device work?

Its (mostly) automatic! The MiniMed 670G automated insulin delivery system works by measuring glucose levels every 5 minutes, and automatically administering or withholding insulin. The one catch – patients will have to enter in the carbohydrates consumed at each meal.

How does this differ from your typical insulin pump?

The MiniMed 670G is considered an artificial pancreas because of its hybrid closed loop system. This means that the MiniMed 670G continuously monitors your glucose levels and adjusts accordingly.

On the other hand, a standard insulin pump does not continuously monitor your glucose levels but rather requires the user to determine insulin levels. These pumps deliver programmed amounts of insulin set by the patient through a catheter placed under the skin.

For more information on insulin pumps, see the American Diabetes Association’s informational page on insulin and other injectables.

Will I still need to give myself insulin?

Unfortunately, yes. Users will still need to request insulin doses to counter carbohydrate consumption during meals. However, the MiniMed prides itself on 90% fewer shots! So expect a large decrease in shots needed if you are using the MiniMed.

What are the risks associated with using the MiniMed 670G

As with all good things, there are also some risks:

When will the device be available?

The MiniMed 670G is set to be available in the spring of 2017.

For more information on the MiniMed 670G, see MedTronic’s product alert here.

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