Insulin pumps, anyone?
For all those insulin dependent diabetics, the recent approval of an ‘Artificial pancreas’ technology by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) might come as a ray of hope towards a life free of tedious blood tests, injections and the constant fear of sudden dips in sugar levels.
Speaking on the future of diabetes technologies during the 22nd Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Speciality Centre Gold Medal Oration Award on Saturday, Dr Satish Gupte of the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes said that the technology would mean that insulin dependent diabetics could now do everything from swimming to running — even while the ‘artificial insulin’ fitted to their bodies is pumping the drugs in the body.
The technology involves an insulin pump that is connected to a tiny sensor. This sensor can be inserted under the skin and kept there for 7-10 days. The advantage of the instrument lies in the fact that the sensor will do away with the multiple pin pricks and blood tests that insulin dependent diabetic patients have to take. Using the system, the sensor constantly monitors the blood sugar levels and pumps in the required insulin according to the needs of the body.
“Even though we always advise patients, especially those suffering from type 1 diabetes to monitor their blood sugar at least 2-3 times a day, patients often find this difficult. The advantage is that there is no sudden dip in blood sugar levels, as the sensor detects any lowering of blood sugar levels and responds by pumping in more glucose before the levels could go down,” he said.
On the down side is the high cost involved. “In the US, the cost for diabetes care today has gone up to $ 245 billion. Moreover in the last four years the cost has gone up by 41 percent. In a country like India where the health insurance coverage is so much lower, the cost could play a huge factor,” he said. Another factor is the training of the patients to use the technology.
“In India it has to be seen whether there will be enough doctors to train the patients to attach the thing properly. This can be very important in the care,” he said.