DRC & Research News

This page shares the latest news in T1D research and DRC’s community.

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Advanced Technology Could Bypass Finger Sticks for Glucose Monitoring

One of the annoying – but necessary – parts of managing type 1 diabetes in conducting multiple finger sticks every day to check blood sugar levels. This is one of the most accurate ways that people with diabetes can determine whether they need to inject themselves with insulin or not, especially around mealtimes and when being physically active. But advances in technology may have found a way to accurately monitor blood sugar levels without requiring finger sticks.

Dexcom is a company that is well known for its continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems, and they are set to launch a new model, the Dexcom G6, in June. Ahead of this release, one user got to try it out early and shared her experiences with the new system.

The G6 comes with a sensor that is placed under the skin and affixed with a transmitter that wirelessly relays information to a receiver. The receiver is often the person’s smartphone and is accessed using a corresponding app. There is an auto-applicator that makes inserting the sensor quick, easy, and painless. Once inserted, it is functional for 10 days before shutting off and needing to be replaced.

However, the sensor continuously monitors blood sugar levels so that individuals do not have to constantly check on their own using a glucometer. For this user, it took a few days for the G6 to begin accurately reading her glucose levels, so she did double-check initially with the glucometer. However, soon they began giving the same readings, and she could track her blood sugar using the app.

The system also gives alerts and alarms for when blood sugar becomes too high or dips too low. It can even alert to downward trends before blood sugar gets the chance to become dangerously low, allowing individuals to appropriately respond and keep levels more stable. In addition, the company has made the transmitter sleeker and more comfortable. It has a 28% lower profile than the current G5 model and affixes flush against the sensor.

Since the system has not been released to the public yet, the final cost is unknown. Plus, this will vary depending on an individual’s insurance coverage or if they are paying out of pocket. However, it provides many benefits in helping individuals with T1D in effectively managing their blood sugar in a more hands-free way and providing readings around the clock that can be viewed through the app or receiver. The benefits may outweigh the costs in the end for some.

The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is excited to see how technology is changing to better support the needs of individuals with type 1 diabetes and help them manage their condition. As research continues to advance, so do technology and treatment options. The DRC is committed to empowering early career scientists in pursuing novel research around type 1 diabetes and raises funds to support these efforts. To learn more about current projects and provide support, visit http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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Medicare to Reimburse for Dexcom G5 Mobile CGM for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Frequent blood glucose testing can be expensive, especially for individuals who must intensively manage their insulin and adjust dosages. The cost of supplies can add up, but they are a necessity for good health. Some individuals may soon see some relief as Medicare recently agreed to cover therapeutic continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems and provide reimbursement. The Dexcom G5 Mobile CGM is currently the only system approved by the FDA for making treatment decisions that falls under this coverage.

Reimbursement would be available for individuals on intensive insulin therapy (either through multiple daily injections or a CSII pump) with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Given current estimates of the number of intensive insulin users receiving Medicare, this could mean that more than 1 million people could be eligible for CGM coverage.  Reimbursement would include not only the G5 receiver, but also sensors, transmitters, and BGM and related supplies.

Dexcom CEO Kevin Sayer explains, “This is a new era and a huge win for people with diabetes on Medicare who can benefit from therapeutic CGM. This decision supports the emerging consensus that CGM is the standard of care for any patient on intensive insulin therapy, regardless of age.”

The broad scope of coverage criteria could mean that even more individuals may be eligible for coverage than previously thought. According to Dexcom, criteria includes:

  • Have diabetes;
  • Have been using a home BGM and performing at least four checks per day;
  • Are insulin-treated with MDI or a pump; and
  • Have an insulin treatment regimen that requires frequent adjustment on the basis of therapeutic CGM testing results.

The Dexcom G5 Mobile is categorized as “Durable Medical Equipment” under Medicare Part B, and qualifies as therapeutic CGM because it can be used to make treatment decisions. In addition, the system’s non-adjunctive label claim was approved in December. The ruling regarding coverage moved forward very quickly, and is a step forward for individuals living with diabetes.

There are currently other CGM systems on the market, but they have not yet been approved by the FDA as therapeutic CGM, therefore are not subject to coverage at this time.

The Diabetes Research Connection is excited to see how this will impact patients with diabetes moving forward. The organization strives to enhance research into the prevention, treatment, and cure of Type 1 diabetes through donor-driven funding. To learn more and support emerging research, visit www.diabetesresearchconnection.org.

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