NPR

Diabetes Technology Moves Closer To Making Life Easier For Patients

While the technology is moving rapidly, insurance, regulatory, and supply challenges make it harder for patients to quickly access the latest medical advances to manage their condition.
Pricking your fingers may someday be a thing of the past for diabetics as new technologies aim to make blood sugar regulation more convenient. / Alden Chadwick / Getty Images

For people with diabetes, keeping blood sugar levels in a normal range – not too high or too low – is a lifelong challenge. New technologies to ease the burden are emerging rapidly, but insurance reimbursement challenges, supply shortages, and shifting competition make it tough for patients to access them quickly.

One new product is a fast-acting insulin from Novo Nordisk. It is designed to help to minimize the high blood sugar spikes that often occur when people with diabetes eat a meal containing carbohydrates.

This new formulation, branded "Fiasp," adds niacinamide (vitamin B3), which roughly doubles the speed of initial insulin absorption compared to current fast-acting insulins taken at mealtime. This new insulin hits the bloodstream in under three minutes.

Another advance is Abbott's new monitoring device. It's new in the U.S. but has been available in Europe since 2014. It's a round patch with a catheter that is inserted on the arm for up to 10 days and a durable scanning device that the user waves over the patch to read their blood sugar level.

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