Making Diabetes Less Painful to Deal With

needleDiabetes is not an easy disease to manage. In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, patients are asked to test their blood glucose levels daily and inject themselves with insulin as needed. The disease requires constant vigilance and faithful adherence to monitoring and treatment regimens. Non-adherence increases a patient’s risk of developing complications such as nerve damage, blindness, kidney problems, heart disease and stroke.

Unfortunately, diabetes patients don’t always engage in the self-care needed to control the disease. Continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels can help patients make the right choices in managing their diabetes, but the standard method of blood glucose monitoring, in which the patient pricks his or her finger with a lancet, may be painful or inconvenient enough that some patients eventually stop testing as they should. Similarly, some patients may grow weary of daily insulin injections. A variety of factors can play into non-adherence among diabetic patients: cost of equipment and medication, depression, stigma about the disease, denial and more. However, making it easier for patients to test and treat themselves may help reduce non-adherence among those with diabetes.

A number of companies have developed continuing blood glucose monitoring and insulin injection products with the goal of improving compliance in diabetic patients. Some of these companies include the following:

Echo Therapeutics has developed a wireless, transdermal glucose monitoring system for patients with diabetes. The Symphony tCGM System uses a skin permeation device, called Prelude, to painlessly remove the outermost layer of skin in approximately three to five seconds, allowing the transdermal biosensor to read glucose levels through the remaining layers of skin.

OrSense has also developed a noninvasive continuous glucose monitor that utilizes a patented technology called Occlusion Spectroscopy. A ring-like sensor temporarily closes off (occludes) blood flow in the patient’s finger, creating new blood dynamics that generate a unique optical signal. Clinicians can analyze the signal to obtain measurements of glucose levels and other blood parameters.

To encourage compliance in diabetic children, Bayer Diabetes Care recently released its Didget blood glucose monitor, which connects to the Nintendo DS and DS Lite. The meter provides children with an adventure game that rewards consistent testing with points, which can be used to unlock new game levels. The product was approved by the FDA in April.

Bioject Medical Technologies markets a needle-free injection system that is approved for delivering subcutaneous or intramuscular injections. The system forces liquid medication through a tiny opening held against the skin, creating an ultra-fine high-pressure stream that penetrates the skin. The technology can be used for a variety of applications, including diabetes, malaria and influenza.

What are some other technologies or methods to increase compliance among diabetes patients?

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