The Year of the Meter
This may well go down in history as the Year of the Meter. Not since Tom Clemens patented the first blood glucose meter in 1971 have we seen such significant advances.
These advances include both traditional meters and continuous sensors. And the year is only half over.
Three New Meters Hit the Shelves
Within the past few months, the three leading manufacturers have introduced new meters.
Roche Diagnostics introduced the Accu-Chek Compact Plus in March. Their product is unique in that it includes not only a drum of 17 test strips but also a detachable Softclix Plus lancet device.
LifeScan’s OneTouch Ultra2, launched in April, solves one of the major problems users have had with their meters. This meter makes it easy for users to keep before-meal and after-meal readings separate so that they can make sense of their trends. The Ultra2 lets users flag and identify a specific blood glucose result as coming from a “before-meal” or “after-meal” test.
The latest FreeStyle meter by Abbott Diabetes Care, the Freedom, has a high-contrast display that is big enough for people with vision problems to read, and the buttons are also large and easy to distinguish. The meter has a new ergonomic design and includes four programmable alarms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved this meter in March.
Continuous Sensors Change How We Think of Meters
All of these meters are what we’ve known as “blood glucose” or “finger-stick” meters. But now we need better terms to separate them from the new wave of continuous blood glucose sensors.
Audrey Finkelstein calls them “episodic” meters, probably the clearest term to differentiate them from continuous sensors. Finkelstein is executive vice president of marketing, sales, and clinical affairs for Animas Corp.
Animas is one of the major insulin pump manufacturers and is also the company that owns the rights to the GlucoWatch G2 Biographer, which Cygnus developed as the first real-time continuous sensor. Animas continues to market the GlucoWatch, says Finkelstein.
The second real-time continuous sensor, the Guardian RT System from Medtronic Diabetes, saw a limited market release last September. The big news this year is that in April, the FDA approved the MiniMed Paradigm Real-Time System, combining an insulin pump and a continuous sensor—essentially the Guardian RT—for the first time. This is a giant step toward a closed-loop insulin delivery system.
In March the FDA approved DexCom’s STS continuous sensor. Then Abbott announced in April that it was now asking the FDA to approve its Navigator continuous sensor for use with an episodic meter. Originally, the company had asked the FDA to approve it as a replacement for an episodic meter. Abbott hopes that the Navigator will be available this year.
More Developments to Come
There remains a need for episodic meters, Audrey Finkelstein says. “You still have to calibrate and confirm continuous sensors with an accurate episodic meter.”
At the rate things are going meter-wise, don’t be surprised if there are even more big developments before the year is out.
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