Wearable Artificial Pancreas: Coming Soon

Just recently, the FDA approved it’s first-ever “artificial pancreas.”  The allowance of this new technology into the market for diabetic patients to purchase and use could be life-changing for hundreds of thousands of people with Type 1 diabetes.

What is an artifical pancreas?

The version that was approved is a blood glucose monitoring device and insulin dispensing mechanism that work together to stabilize the blood glucose levels of the patient.  It hooks onto the belt and attaches to a sensor inserted under the skin.  It is called an artificial pancreas simply because it serves the same function as that of a healthy pancreas. The new artificial pancreas by Medtronics has no bio-artificial parts.  It is medical equipment that can be inserted and used by the patient without a surgical procedure.

Can everyone use it?

No.  It has only been approved for patients over the age of 16 as, so diabetic children must stick to the less automated pin-pricking that most people living with diabetes are used to.

Does it work?

The answer to this question is two fold.  (1) It works better than anything else Type 1 patients have access to right now.  This means less worry than before as the system is mostly automated.  However, (2) it currently has a 33% false alarm rate for indicating low insulin levels.  Hopefully peace of mind that the device is monitoring you overshadows the panic of the false alarms.

When will it be ready?

The FDA has approved the new technology to be released in 2-3 weeks.  Medtronics, the makers of the approved artificial pancreas say they will now be ramping up production so that the device will be ready for consumers to buy just as soon as they are able. The only question that remains is if the device can be better than its false alarm rate – does the benefit outweigh the uncertainty? What do you think? Leave us a comment and join in the discussion on this major advancement.

By: DiabeticCare editorial team; Published: 10-1-2013, 9:00 AM

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