Medtronic touted new clinical data from its growing base of MiniMed 670G insulin-pump users, noting on Tuesday that people who used the pump's most advanced features kept their blood sugar levels within what is considered safe range for more than two hours longer than people who didn't use the features.
The real-world results from nearly 8 million patient days using the device come less than a year before Medtronic is slated to release its next version of the pump, known as the MiniMed 780G. That pump will feature Bluetooth connectivity and programming designed to improve time-in-range even further when it is released during Medtronic's current fiscal year, which ends next April, company CEO Omar Ishrak said last week.
But Medtronic is focused on expanding its base of 180,000 users of the 670G, which has been the subject of value-based purchasing programs and insurance policies designed to steer patients with diabetes toward Medtronic's devices instead of rival systems.
Insulin pumps were also the subject of a recent warning from the FDA against using unauthorized "hybrid" systems that combine various manufacturers' devices in untested ways. The report followed an April story in the Atlantic that said some diabetics specifically seek out older Medtronic insulin pumps that they can hack to fit their personal use.
Diabetes is a disease in which a person's blood sugar goes too high or too low, depending on a wide range of factors, including diet, exercise, sleep, stress, hormonal changes and others. While those factors affect everyone, people with type 1 diabetes do not make enough natural insulin to regulate their blood sugar and must take insulin to survive.
People with type 2 diabetes have some insulin, but their bodies have become resistant to its affects, often requiring insulin injections to compensate.
In both cases, the goal of therapy is to keep a person's blood-glucose levels within a safe range, generally between 70 and 180 mg/dL. Staying in range can reduce the long-term risks of blood-vessel damage, stroke, coronary-artery disease, loss of vision and nerve damage.
In the large data set unveiled Tuesday by Medtronic, real-world users of the MiniMed 670G pump (as opposed to carefully selected clinical-trial patients) spent 71% of their time "in range," including 2.3 additional hours per day in range compared to people who used the pump without its most advanced features on. Patients using the features reduced their number of 20-minute episodes of falling too low by 28%, and reduced the number of episodes of going high for three hours or more by 55%.
"Avoidance of the roller-coaster of high and low episodes is a critical aspect of diabetes management since patients feel frustrated when this happens and are often unable to correctly respond, which further perpetuates the negative cycle of lows and highs," the Medtronic announcement said.