Medtronic’s launch of a new version of its smart insulin pen with integrated continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is the first such device for use by people with diabetes who use multiple daily injections (MDI) of insulin.
Initially launched by Companion Medical in 2017, the InPen system is a reusable insulin injector pen combined with a smartphone app that provides insulin dose calculation information and tracking.
Medtronic acquired Companion in September 2020 and now the new version, the InPen with Real-Time Guardian Connect CGM Data, allows users to view glucose readings and insulin dose information in the same app.
The InPen, a so-called “connected delivery device,” also provides reports that aggregate insulin, glucose, and carbohydrate information into graphical displays. As with other current CGM systems, the information can be sent wirelessly to a clinician. And as with insulin pumps, the pens are programmed with target blood glucose levels, insulin-to-carb ratios, and insulin sensitivity parameters. The device tracks “insulin on board” and delivers reminders for basal and bolus doses.
InPen delivers only short-acting insulin from cartridges, all the three major brands. Patients who need long-acting insulin still need to inject that separately.
Barry H. Ginsberg, MD, PhD, of Diabetes Technology Consultants, Arlington, Va., said in an interview, “People using pumps have had data integration for a while now. This is an excellent first step in data integration for people doing MDI and I am sure it will improve blood glucose control.”
Asked about comparative costs, Medtronic spokeswoman Pamela Reese said in an interview, “While insurance costs will vary, the smart pen is less expensive than the insulin pump.”
Smart pens: How large is the market?
Speaking on Nov. 14 at the Diabetes Technology Society conference, diabetes care and education specialist Hope Warshaw, RD, gave an overview of the current smart pen/connected delivery device landscape.
She noted that the patient population who might benefit from smart pens, those using MDI, which is defined as injecting both long-acting insulin and short-acting insulin before meals, may be larger than appreciated. There are about 1.6 million U.S. patients with type 1 diabetes, of whom just 30%-40% currently use insulin pumps. In addition, of the 5.8 million with type 2 diabetes who take insulin, about 29%, or 1.7 million, use MDI.
Among those with type 1 diabetes, she said that smart pens might be a good option for “people who don’t want to wear the physical pump. They can deal with the sensor, but for psychological reasons or they have dermatologic issues, they just can’t wear a pump.”
But, Ms. Warshaw stressed, the type 2 diabetes population shouldn’t be overlooked. “More and more people with type 2 diabetes are on MDI. ... In fact, there are more who use MDI than the entire population with type 1 diabetes. ... This is happening because people with type 2 are getting it earlier and living longer.”
Dr. Ginsberg views smart pens as a bridge between simple pen injectors to automated insulin delivery (AID) systems, those that link insulin pumps with CGMs.
Regarding patients with type 1 diabetes, he said, “I see pen users on MDI slowly moving to integrated systems and then, when comfortable with the technology, moving to AID, finances allowing.”
As for those with type 2 diabetes, he said that they “are less computer literate and less likely to move to integrated systems, but they will, over time.”
In all, Dr. Ginsberg said, “I see integrated pens as increasing, not decreasing, the AID market.”