It seems to be a trend that all new biotech advancements cost more than their predecessors, which makes complete sense in some ways. But it’s also hard to avoid the irony that the things, which are created to help us live longer and healthier lives, are increasingly less affordable.
Big developments on the horizon these days are targeting the 30 million diabetic Americans. Pharma and tech experts are investing loads of money into diabetes technology, with the hope of producing software and devices that will alleviate the troubles these patients face.
Photo (cc) Alan Levine
STAT News discussed a handful of tech on the way, from various companies:
- “Smart socks” developed by the startup Siren Care, in San Francisco, are lined with sensors that are designed to detect variations in foot temperature. The change in temperature can be associated with inflammation, which can be caused by an unnoticed injury.
- FreeStyle Libre Pro System developed by Abbott, is an arm patch, which reads glucose levels every 15 minutes. The patients can’t see the results all the time by themselves, but there is enough data every two weeks for clinicians to guide their patients through medical and lifestyle choices.
- “Sugar.IQ” developed by Medtronic and IBM Watson, is a smartphone app that gives patients personalized warnings about how food choices and certain activities might affect blood sugar, based on information that the patients give it.
- “Artificial pancreas” developed by Medtronic and recently FDA approved, is a device designed to monitor and administer insulin for type 1-diabetes patients, who cannot provide insulin naturally. The insulin pump and glucose monitor are wirelessly connected but patients still have to manually control their glucose levels before eating.
There is an even greater abundance of technology than just those four and even though experts are optimistic about their abilities, it is important to note patients’ reluctance incorporate the tech into their lives. These companies may be pursuing a large market, but diabetes patients have hesitated from investing in old tech. So what are the chances that they would invest in the new tech? Previous hesitation was due to cost, and it is understandable that that hesitation has increased with cost.
There has also been a recent concern for security with some of the tech. Johnson & Johnson told its patients that one of its insulin pumps is vulnerable to exploitation by hackers, who can overdose patients with insulin. The risk is low but anyone would agree that it is a big one to take.
Most of the upcoming tech is being tested, or will be tested in the near future, on a sample of diabetic patients. Until then, experts and patients will wait and watch.