Diabetes Developments

ADA: Day 3

San Francisco — The best thing about going to the annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association is to visit with old friends and to listen to the top doctors and professors in the field. The next best is to see and use the new technology exhibited by the companies making products for people with diabetes to use.

This year more exhibitors than ever are at the ADA. I counted 205 booths ranging in size from one-man stands to huge displays by the major pharmaceutical and meter companies with dozens of employees showing off their wares.

Even if I skipped all of the medical presentations I couldn’t even nod a greeting at every booth. I focused on meter technology, which an area that most directly affects people with diabetes.

In this area alone at least four companies have products in development or on the shelf worth writing about.

I think the most exciting prospect is a completely integrated device that Pelikan Technologies in Palo Alto, California, has well underway. This company already has an integrated lancing device and drum of 50 lancets called the Pelikan Sun. I’ve used it for two years and know that it’s much less painful than any other lancing system.

After developing the most sophisticated lancing system available, Pelikan bought a German sensor company to combine the Pelikan Sun with a meter and test strips. This means we can have all four testing components in one package.

“It’s everything we need for testing except for a Kleenex to wipe up the blood afterwards,” I joked with Pelikan’s CEO Dirk Boecker today. But he responded seriously.

“You won’t need Kleenex, because it won’t leave any blood on your finger. It takes only 0.16 microliters of blood.” That’s about half of what the meter with currently the best number can claim.

Dirk Boecker, CEO of Pelikan Technologies Holding a Pelikan Sun

When will the completely integrated system be available for those of us with diabetes to use? Probably next year, but it depends mostly on how fast the Food and Drug Administration approves it. I can’t wait to see it.

Coming next month, however, is far and away the most beautiful blood glucose meter I ever saw. Its white sculpted looks remind me so much of my iPod that I joked with JeffKonecke of the manufacturer,  Bionime, that Apple might sue them.

But Jeff, Bionime’s vice president for the Americas, didn’t seem concerned. He told me that he had mailed me one of the first of this beautiful meter, which they call the Rightest GM100/GM110. I will review it here when I get home. It will be on the market next month.

Another of my favorite meter companies, AgaMatrix, has a big booth. But most people wouldn’t know it. The booth says “WaveSense” by which the company now prefers to be known in honor of its accurate sensing technology.

Recently I reviewed the WaveSense Jazz meter here in glowing terms. It follows the company’s earlier Liberty meter (offered only through Liberty Medical ) and KeyNote meters.

But even with the forthcoming Jazz, WaveSense isn’t resting on its laurels. An extension of the KeyNote line is the KeyNote Pro for medical professionals (like nurses) who need a meter that will automatically eject the test strip. And also following the WaveSense KeyNote is the WaveSense Presto, which is also a low-cost device, but unlike the KeyNote requires no coding. I saw both of them here at the ADA and will write about them as soon as I get my hands on my personal meters.

These are all first-tier companies in terms of quality. But in terms of sales volume the first tier remains the big four: LifeScan, Roche, Abbott, and Bayer. At the ADA this week Bayer introduced a new version of its Contour meter. We can personalize it for either basic or advanced levels of testing. The new Contour can be personalized in another way too — it will come in three different colors when it will become available late this summer.

We already had a lot of meter choices. And now we have real quality meters to use.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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