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Abbott, DexCom Partner With Insulet to Improve Diabetes Management Technology

Gianna Melillo
Abbott recently announced a partnership with Insulet Corporation to integrate its glucose-sensing technology with an automated insulin delivery system for patients with diabetes. Specifically, Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre system will become compatible with Insulet’s Omnipod Horizon, in an effort to “offer personalized automated insulin delivery and care for people living with diabetes.”
This story has been corrected to reflect additional information about data security.

Abbott recently announced a partnership with Insulet Corporation to integrate its glucose-sensing technology with an automated insulin delivery system for patients with diabetes. Specifically, Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre system will become compatible with Insulet’s Omnipod Horizon, in an effort to “offer personalized automated insulin delivery and care for people living with diabetes.”

The combined technology will operate through an app on users’ smartphones and works by transferring glucose data from the sensor to the pod. The pod then uses an embedded algorithm to automatically adjust insulin delivery without any additional devices. The technology’s continuous automated insulin delivery mode will allow users to manually take a dose of fast-acting insulin, or bolus, before meals to ensure optimal performance. The combined system is also expected to be the first of its kind with a disposable wearable sensor and pump.

Because Abbott and Insulet can sell their products “through the pharmacy,” the platform will be available to users in a “pay-as-you-go” model. This “allows users to acquire the supplies they need at that moment,” said Marc Taub, PhD, the divisional vice president of technical operations for diabetes care at Abbott, in an e-mail exchange with The American Journal of Managed Care®.

In 2018, some senior users of the FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system gained Medicare coverage for the device. The Omnipod insulin pump also achieved coverage through Medicare Part D in 2018, after first being cleared by the FDA in 2005. It is unclear how the combined technologies will be covered by insurance.

Currently, there is no expected launch date for the platform, but the companies “are working to bring this integrated offering to people with diabetes globally as soon as possible,” said Taub.

This announcement comes on the same day that Dexcom, a competitor of Abbott, announced a commercial agreement with Insulet to integrate their own CGM with the Omnipod Horizon. The global commercialization agreement cemented the integration of current and future Dexcom CGMs with the Omnipod. Specifically, the Omnipod Horizon Automated Insulin Delivery System, will “use sensor values from the Dexcom G6 and next-generation G7 CGM systems to predict glucose levels into the future and automatically adjust the insulin dose required to help reduce the occurrence of blood glucose highs and lows,” according to a press release. The Omnipod Horizon system is expected to launch in the second half of 2020.

Dexcom also announced a data partnership agreement with DreaMed Advisor, a cloud-based data management system, to enable “seamless data transfer of CGM data from Dexcom into DreaMed Advisor,” according to a press release.

The rise in digital diabetes management tools has encouraged similar partnerships, as BioCorp, a French medical device company, recently announced a marketing partnership with iSage Rx, a digital therapeutics company focusing on insulin dose optimization.

While all companies may operate with the same goal in mind—optimizing insulin dosage and creating ease of treatment for patients with diabetes—continued reliance on smart phone apps brings its own challenges.

In December, part of a Dexcom app used to provide blood-sugar data malfunctioned, meaning patients couldn’t access vital information to guide insulin dosing for 3 days. The issue was attributed to a server overload, which resulted in the shutdown of a key monitoring feature. Without access to remote monitoring of blood sugar, many patients and care givers expressed outrage that a potentially dangerous event could have gone unnoticed.

When it comes to a backup system for the Abbott-Insulet partnership app, Taub explained “The integrated system will be controlled through Insulet’s app that will be offered with the Omnipod Horizon System. It will be designed to send glucose data from the sensor directly to the Pod that is embedded with an algorithm to automatically adjust insulin delivery – without the need for an additional device, connection or tubing.”

Taub continued, “From an Abbott perspective, protecting our patients’ privacy and ensuring data security are significant priorities for Abbott. Abbott is compliant with all applicable data protection laws and regulations.”

Both Abbott and Dexcom continue to market their closed-loop systems for diabetes management, which will not only minimize patients’ management burdens but may also contribute to a reduction in the $237 billion spent on diabetes care each year in the United States.

“Our collaboration with Insulet will offer accurate and personalized automated insulin delivery—without the need for additional devices, connections or tubes,” said Taub. "The future of diabetes care is around integrating technologies to provide a deeper understanding of diabetes at the individual level and enabling personalized care. By partnering with other leaders in the diabetes space, we can develop a cohesive ecosystem, where people with diabetes can manage their condition more seamlessly by reducing the burden required to manage glucose and insulin levels manually."

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