How much do you really know about the only inhalable insulin? This week, Stacey interviews the CEO of MannKind, makers of Afrezza. Mike Castagna talks about how Afrezza works, misconceptions about the product, the worldwide market, pediatric studies and lots more.
This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
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Episode transcription below:
Stacey Simms 0:00
Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario health manage your blood glucose levels increase your possibilities by Gvoke Hypopen the first premixed auto injector for very low blood sugar and by Dexcom take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with Dexcom This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms. This week all about Afrezza How much do you really know about the inhalable Insulet. I had a great conversation with the people who make it
Mike Castagna 0:34
For me, it's about using the right product to meet your needs to get you in control. And if you're doing well, great, we're going to avoid the long term complications. But if you're not doing your health, and you gotta really try to find the best set of tools, they're gonna make you successful and fit your lifestyle.
Stacey Simms 0:47
That's mankind CEO Mike Castagna. We talked about how Afrezza works misconceptions the worldwide market pediatric studies and lots more. This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
Welcome to another week of the show. We so glad to have you here we aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin. And this week, we're talking about the use of the only inhalable insulin, my son was diagnosed with type one right before he turned two, he is 16. My husband has type two diabetes, I don't have diabetes at all. But I have a background in broadcasting. And that is how you get the podcast, I have to say that personally, my family is very interested in Afrezza Benny really would like to try this seat. Of course, as I mentioned in that tease up there, they're looking at pediatrics, he is still under 18. So it's not proof for his age group. But we're watching it really closely. And I have a lot of friends. A lot of bloggers and people in the diabetes community have talked about this for years. And some things have changed. So I wanted to have them on the show and find out more. So a little bit of background for you. If you are brand new to all this, Afrezza was approved in the United States in 2014. And the company that makes it is mankind. For a while it was sold by Santa Fe, but then mankind took it back. It's one of those things where sometimes the business side seems to have gotten more attention than the product itself. So what is Afrezza it is a powder, it comes in cartridges, and you suck it in you inhale it with a special inhaler device. To me, it looks more like a whistle than a traditional inhaler like an asthma inhaler. It's not like a big tube. I'll link up some photos in the show notes. I'll also link up the Afrezza website so you can learn more and see their information.
And my guest this week is Dr. Mike Castagna, the CEO of mankind now he has a Doctorate of pharmacy, he worked as a pharmacist behind the counter for CVS at the start of his career. But then he went back to school and he got an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. He's fun to talk to he doesn't mince words, and he truly believes in this product, I do have to tell you that Mike mentions monomeric insulin a couple of times, I'm going to come back after the interview and explain more about that give you a better definition. All you really need to know is that it's faster than how liquid insulin is made. And all of that in just a moment.
But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Daario. And over the years I find we manage diabetes better when we're thinking less about all the stuff of diabetes tasks. That's why I love partnering with people who take the load off on things like ordering supplies, so I can really focus on Benny, the Dario diabetes success plan is all about you all the strips and lancets you need delivered to your door, one on one coaching so you can meet your milestones, weekly insights into your trends with suggestions on how to succeed, get the diabetes management plan that works with you and for you, Daria is published Studies demonstrate high impact clinical results, find out more go to my dario.com forward slash Diabetes Connections.
Mike, thanks for joining me, I'm really excited to catch up. And look, I'm stuttering because I can't believe this is the first time we're talking to you. But thanks for coming on. Oh, thank you, Rodney. I'm super excited before we jump in and start talking about Afrezza Can you give us some perspective kind of dial back because mankind is not. It's not a name that came out of nowhere? There's really important history. Can you kind of talk about that a little bit first?
Mike Castagna 4:14
Sure. Mankind comes from our founder named after Al Mann and Al Mann was a true innovator. He started I think 17 companies and everything from the cochlear implant to the pacemaker to insulin pumps that many of us know today as Medtronic used to be called mini med. And Al Mann built the insulin pumps over the 80s and 90s and was very successful and sold that company to Medtronic. And then he took literally $1 billion of his own money and invested in mankind. And he had put this company together through three companies he owned the technology to make Afrezza was really a combination of companies and the reason he was so dedicated as he saw in the pump market, which we now see today on CGM was that the variability in mealtime control was so high and the fluctuations you see that the influence takes about an hour and a half to kick in. And it's hard to get real time control if you can't get a faster acting insulin. And so he set out to make a real time acting insulin, so phrases and hailed as monomeric. And that was really what the magic was in our technology making a dry powder was was free dryness, if you heard of dippin dots ice cream, we have basically large dipping machines in our factory, but we free dry the particles to make a freezer and under stabilize the monomeric form. So when you're inhaling, you're inhaling influenza, as soon as it's in your blood is active, or when you inject it has to hold hexamer and has to break down there were about 45 minutes. And that's how you can make it stabilize an injectable form. But it has to break down and then it starts working. And that's why there's always this lag effect between we see injectable and foam in and help us is very different products were categorized with real time rapid acting, but the name mankind comes from elmen and the guy who probably 60% of people on pumps have their own pumps that he created. So amazing gentlemen, huge contributions to diabetes and millions of people were alive today because of his work and his generosity and roven to take that forward here and kids and frozen inhaled insulin.
Stacey Simms 6:06
I mean, never look at dippin dots the same again.
Mike Castagna 6:10
I see a large factory of they don't like it, you know, we can always make different types of things don't go well.
Stacey Simms 6:15
I love it. Let me ask you to go into a little bit more detail about how someone who uses Afrezza would actually use it. Can you talk a little bit about like a daily routine?
Mike Castagna 6:25
Yeah, I mean, I know, you know, well, you're in this disease. I mean, people sometimes graze all day, and they just kind of ride their sugars and take a little bit some along the way or many boluses. And some people you know, eat once or twice a day, or some people, you know, carb restricted and everyone has a different way. And I think that you know, the big thing difference was for the patients that I see is, it's in the moment, meaning you don't have to time your meal and your insulin, when you're going to take it and where you're going to be. As soon as your food arrives. You take your first dose.
Stacey Simms 6:50
Most people I know who use Afrezza take a long acting insulin with it. Is that pretty standard for people with type one?
Mike Castagna 6:57
Yeah, I'll take one year, right? Yeah, you need a basal insulin of some sort, you know, and, and a meal time was held, we do have some patients on pumps where they will use their punches for their basil, for example, and use a phrase for real time corrections. So you know, the average patient is very different. We have some patients that are type twos, you know not not on any basil, you'll need to be on basil for if you're type two. But if you're type one, you need to basil, long acting insulin, and you need your meal time. And we know the biggest problem in this country is still mealtime control is the number one thing people with diabetes struggle with. And it's a big reason why, you know, six, or seven or eight, you know, eight out of 10 people basically are not a goal on insulin because of the mealtime control. So it's a daily challenge for everybody.
Stacey Simms 7:39
Can you talk a little bit about how Afrezza is kind of measured out? Because when we think of mealtime, insulin, everything's a carb ratios. And especially as I mentioned, if you're on an insulin pump, you're you're putting in the carbs that you eat. So how does that work?
Mike Castagna 7:51
Yeah, it's funny, I get into many debates with people because, you know, I'm a pharmacist by training, but I'm not the smartest guy. But I couldn't do all the work people do every day to influence sensitivity ratios and carb counting and timing. And all I can tell you is everyone's masks off by 50%, one direction or another. And so we have this false pretense that we're that accurate. And dosing are influenced by down to the half a unit or one unit. And the reality is your angle of injection can decrease, you know, change your absorption by 25%, your site of injection can change absorption, your your stress level can change your impact with your insulin, there's so many things that go into your daily dosing of insulin, that, you know, being that precise, down to the unit is not as accurate as we all think. And I think that's that's one of the misnomers of, you know, the timing is what you really struggle with when you're using injectable insulin, and you just don't know what's going to happen. You know, when people I guess doctors often you know, you don't have to carb count with Afrezza . And they give me funny looks. And the reality is, you know, we've never done a study where you're carb counting to get your dose of insulin, that's, you know, so becomes a four 812 dose linear all the way up to 48 units, it's additive, and you just got to be close enough. And so it's about a two to one ratio, you know, there's no direct pulmonary equivalent to injectable insulin, unfortunately, but, you know, people are taking five units of injectable insulin per meal, they're gonna need about eight units of Afrezza and maybe even 12. And you're gonna figure that out, it's your first meal or two what what the right dose is for you. But you just got to be close enough. And that's a big misunderstanding for people of how accurate the dose has to be. This is the sixth dose cartridge is a big problem. I know plenty of type one patients who take for a 1224 meal, especially they haven't Chinese food or sushi, they just they dose a lot. So I think that's something people have been comfortable, so dramatically different than anything they've ever been trained or taught in their history of living with diabetes.
Stacey Simms 9:36
I would assume that a prescription for Afrezza comes with a doctor's visit where someone whether it's someone who works for Afrezza, or the endocrinologist talks to you about how to do this dosing. You said you figure it out, but I've got to assume that you're not just sending people home with this inhalable and say, just test it, I mean, right somebody, you're at a ratio
Mike Castagna 9:59
and I think That's the key thing is, you know, having patients understand because it's odorless and tasteless. So you inhale, and you're like, what did I get it? And I'm like, yeah, if you inhaled, and I have the second, it's in your blood, it's in your lungs, it's breath activated. So you can't really, of course, you can try to mess up something. But we have something called Blue Hill, where we can show proper inhalation technique in the office on an iPhone app or an Android. And so you know, we hope that patients are being trained either by our trainers or the doctors offices, and will propagation technique looks like that's number one. And then number two is the right dosing. And as you know, individualized dosing is important and fun. And, again, that's why I say we take a lot of the math out because it's either gonna be a four or an eight, and all of a sudden, you're like, Oh my god, I'm gonna take an eight units, it's a lot it's really not when you're taking inhalation units versus injectable units and that's what people got to get comfortable with if their first or second dose so they really do figure out this meal did this or pizza is going to take longer so pick another dose and now our people do figure it out pretty much within the first week. And then there's one thing actually I want to mention because I often forget this is because injectable insulin is such a long tail it's in your body for four to six hours before it's out and that feeds into your basal rate your long acting and so when people switch over presence pretty much out of your body in a net roughly an hour and a half. Sometimes people need to adjust their basil and that's something to watch out for if you do switch to Afrezza enter you're struggling with with some of the basil rates. Some patients you know I hear people anecdotally you know, we don't want to study their the bump up their basil 10 15% on Lantus. And I've heard patients on to see that because it does have that long tail of down there in front sometimes on the basil. So there are the other metrics patients have to watch out for when they are switching to the product. It's not just the uptime, it's also something that basil where you look at
Stacey Simms 11:38
I have a question and I i apologize because it's a it's a bit ridiculous. I'm gonna ask it anyway.
Right back to the interview in just a moment. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Gvoke Hypopen. And our endo always told us that if you use insulin, you need to have emergency glucagon on hand as well. Low blood sugars are one thing we're usually able to treat those with fast acting glucose tabs or juice. But a very low blood sugar can be very frightening. Which is why I'm so glad there's a different option for emergency glucagon, it's Gvoke Hypopen. Gvoke Hypopen is pre mixed and ready to go with no visible needle, you pull off the red cap, push the yellow end onto bare skin and hold it for five seconds. That's it, find out more go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Gvoke logo. Gvoke shouldn't be used in patients with pheochromocytoma or insulinoma. Visit Gvoke glucagon.com slash risk. Now back to my interview with Mike, where I will ask that ridiculous question.
You had mentioned it's tasteless, odorless, I recall hearing and I'll have to fact check this. But I recall hearing that years ago dandruff shampoo, they had to add like that tingly feeling because people didn't think it was working like it's totally fake. But people just didn't believe it was a medicated shampoo because it didn't have an unpleasant sensation. Have you thought or talked at all about adding like a flavor or a feeling to so people really know that they got it? Or is that just really bananas?
Mike Castagna 13:12
If somebody might company come and talk to you ahead of time? There's somebody internally who wants us to look at like cherry flavor Afrezza especially as they go into pediatrics? And the answer is, look, there's blueberry Metformin because the metformin smells awful and tastes awful, probably. So you know, those things are possible. We've never done them. And to my knowledge in this industry with dry powders, it is a question that came up recently. Is that should we be thinking about the cherry flavor Afrezza or some other flavor? And I think the answer is TBD. We I don't know what the date is on inhaling the food coloring dye or whatever. Yeah. But that's some of the stuff we have to justify that it's safe and effective. And along with FDA would want us to test but they come up recently and another internal discussion. And since you're asking, I think we'll look at it, even if maybe there's a way to even show a placebo, that's a cherry flavor or something right a one time dose to see what it's like. So I don't know. But now, but people like I said, it's sometimes you get a call, like you know, when you take a phrase of one out of four people will get a cough initially. And generally there were the first four weeks that cough goes away 97% of the people. So I always tell people, you're having a cough, like as long as not interrupting your life, it should slowly get to your first refill. And it should be mostly resolved by that your body's getting used to putting a powder in your lungs. But that's uh, you know, when people ask, what's the difference between injectable and inhaled in terms of safety, you know, you're putting a drug powder in for the first time in your body and your body could choose that. And the number one thing that's different, were injectable insulin. You know, you have other other things. You're dealing with injection sites and pump sites and scar tissue and things like that.
Stacey Simms 14:48
Does the body actually acclimate to the powder or is it just a question of someone gets better and used to the inhalation sensation?
Mike Castagna 14:55
You know, it's it's a good question. I don't know if I have a black and white answer here. bodies give. Yeah, my guess is the body's getting used to putting a dry powder in and just exit and you get used to like weed. You can drink a glass of water before and after and help you minimize it. But it's generally like that's what it feels like it's not a productive call frightening, there's not a call to happens 10 minutes later, it usually happens. We have to inhale.
Stacey Simms 15:17
You mentioned BlueHale , can you tell us a little bit more about what that is?
Mike Castagna 15:21
Yeah, so BlueHale is to two different things. The first one that we're looking at is with the patient training device. So we can show you whether you had a good emulation or not a good emulation and show you that technique. The second version, actually, you can detect with those you put in the cartridge and hilar. So it has a proprietary software there that we can see what cartridge you put in for the adapter. And it'll tell you on your app, if you took a for a 12 or 16, how much you took in that session. And then we hooked integrate that with the CGM data. So now you can show those response curves on CGM one day and eventually I want to get into AI and predictive analytics. But we're not there yet. But we think that's the magic of what people really want, which is one that I use the thing when you live with diabetes, you just must remember and be that perfect to know exactly what those you did with them. You took it, what meal you were and then I simulated being a patient for a week. And I realized I could remember if I took a four and eight, I take a six or 620 is that 30 minutes or one hour like it was it was amazing. When you just think about life and people are human. They're there. They're human. So they're not keeping track. And they're not that accurate. They're just estimating. And that's when I talked about the dosing of insulin, like we're always estimating everything, we're estimating the time our food is going to come and how long it's going to work. You know, what the carbs are? How much am I gonna eat or drink? Like, it's all accurate? It's all off. None of it's that accurate. That to me is the thing I realized when I was thinking of doing one of those a disease, you don't you think they're perfect. They're not. They're human beings. And that's when I see one out of five doses of injectable insulin are intentionally missed. And the predominant one that's missed is actually lunchtime, which makes sense to wear out in a social environment. They don't want to inject. And by the time they get back, they forget it's probably too late. Or you're already high.
Stacey Simms 17:00
What do you mean by intentionally Miss? You mean? Like they people just forget?
Mike Castagna 17:03
No, no, they intentionally knew they should take a dose of insulin, but they're in a lunch conversation, or they forgot their insulin in the office. Or they'll have their CGM receiver on the bike, or they essentially don't they miss one of the five doses. So if you're missing 20% of your doses, it's really hard to get in control. And there's all kinds of reasons, but that's intentional omission versus unintentional. Which is I forgotten.
Stacey Simms 17:23
I'm curious what the sources on that that's, I mean, I don't doubt it. I'm just curious.
Mike Castagna 17:27
Yeah, I couldn't find it. follow up on that. I have your email, I'll look for it. Yeah, no, because I didn't believe it. And then there was a study done with one of the pens coming out that has digital connectivity. And I looked at it and I looked at the data and like, wait, if a person needs three times a day, seven days a week, that's at least 1721 doses, right? And I think the average person is taking like 1212 shots a week. And I'm like, Well, that doesn't make sense. But you realize, you know, again, we're human, people aren't always as compliant as we want, or they don't eat three times a day perfectly are the two big meals, you know, everyone does something different. So having insulin that meets your needs, and your lifestyle, I think is really important in the world. And you know, look, we like our products, obviously, we're here, we love the Afrezza. But But I also just for me, it's about using the right product that meets your needs to get you in control. And if you're doing well, great, you're gonna avoid the long term complications. But if you're not, you own your health, and you got to really try to find the best set of tools that are going to make you successful and fit your lifestyle. And, you know, obviously, we're not doing well when 80% of people on insulin on a boat. I mean, that's that, to me is the number one thing, I look at this country and say, well, despite all the adoption of pumps, and technology and CGM, we still have not made a meaningful difference in percent of people to go. And that's frustrating.
Stacey Simms 18:35
Way back in the beginning of this interview, we talked about Chinese food and pizza. And I'm just curious, you know, these are things that are hard to dos for, because they they kind of they come later, you know, what most people listening are very familiar with, and I think probably have their own system for dosing, whether it's an extended bolus or injecting more than once. How would you do something like that on a Friday? Is it a question of you would take what you think when you're eating, and then again, in a bit later, like, how do you account for those high fat foods?
Mike Castagna 19:02
Yeah, you know, I'm going to pick on Anthony Hightower, who I know you interviewed before. So I actually met Anthony on a bed over social media. And he had showed me your servers where he ate pizza. So I'll pick on him because I want the public discussion here, sir. He pizza and his sugars are basically flat over the two, three hours post meal. And I said, I'm like, shocked. He's like, this is something people cannot do naturally on the history of injectable insulin, they they always struggle. And when you eat pizza, you're going to struggle not just for hours, but potentially for the next day because just throws everything off. I think in his case, right? I've watched him he took a big dose up front, you know, let's say he's gonna take 12 units of injectable he took 24 units of Afrezza. And then he washed her wasn't an hour, and then an hour she was above where he started. He took another dose, maybe took a four and he has to tap it off. And then an hour later, just thought was too high or not right. But you can always keep your sugars in that kind of control. That's one of the studies we did back in 2018, called this test study was showing that you could do as soon as one hour with no more hyper risk. And that was a big concern of people, how can I do that one hour, well, pretty much hit its peak effect in one hour. So if your servers are still moving in the wrong direction, you can correct them at that point. And so that's where someone on pizza or Chinese food, like, yeah, it's a high dose up front and may manage it through the whole system. Or they may see an hour or two later, they're still high and to take another dose, that they can bring it down at some point.
Stacey Simms 20:20
Alright, let's talk about the big questions that people generally have. And that the one I hear the most is, Is it safe? Right? Is it? Is it okay to inhale this stuff into my lungs? Can you talk about the studies that you've done?
Mike Castagna 20:32
Yeah, I think if we were able to make inhaled insulin 100 years ago, we'd be scratching our heads those who would inject themselves three times a day. So I think it's just an unfortunate matter of 100 years of difference. But we studied a phrase that probably over 3000 patients 70, some trials $3 billion over 20 years, like, that's how much money time and energy is going into prove the safety and effectiveness of this product. And you know, and I tell people like you know, there is no data to say that it's not safe. We have all the rodent studies, all the CT scans that along looking for fibrosis looking for pulmonary issues, we found nothing. So it doesn't sit in the lung. There's an old product called exubera on the market years ago. And exubera was a sugar based manatal formulation which got absorbed over time into your lungs in a friend this case, the it's got water and human influence. So when we ask about what ingredients are you worried about the human influence, human influence, it's the whole AI base, but it's human influence characteristic, and water is purified. So we know that safe and the other only other carrier in our products SDK p which is a excluded product that is not metabolized in the body, it's just 100% extruded. So you know, there's three ingredients in our product. One is human insulin, one is water, and one is tkp. And SDK p comes out of the system. So I don't I don't think the body is afraid of human insulin. And what are so I think, you know, I always struggle with this topic. Because, you know, what happened is there was some lung cancer cases and Newser, were they there was a couple of our data. But you know, in the seven years since FDA approval, we've seen no safety signals come up in the postmarketing. We have almost 10,000 patients on the presidency. I know people in the drug for 1012 years. And so, you know, we don't see anything that gives us concern. And we're going into kids now, who would have to take the drug for 40 5060 years. So I think it's hard to prove something that you've never seen. But safety comes with time. And I think the good news is product has been approved by the FDA for seven years now. And we've not seeing any safety signals in our database, which we look every year, our rems program ended early by the FDA and and we've continued to show good data and all the studies we've done, we've not seen anything new come up in our anywhere safety issues. So if you're, you know, the populations, I would say if you have COPD, and asthma, this is not the right drug for you.
Stacey Simms 22:41
So a dumb question, though. If you have diabetes, and you smoke, can you get an Afrezza? prescription?
Mike Castagna 22:48
We would say you should not? Yes, we have a warning for that.
Stacey Simms 22:52
Well, I just wanted to be clear that there was an actual warning, it wasn't just a please don't because it's bad for
Mike Castagna 22:57
Stacey Simms 23:00
tell me about the study with kids. Because I've got one, I've got a 16 year old who was quite interested in this product.
Mike Castagna 23:06
Yeah, no, I just found out Unfortunately, the dagga three year old cousin in the family have just come down with type one. And she will, she'll be four and our studies gonna go down to four years old to 17 years old, when we launch it. So I'm excited, we had to do a study to show that the pharmacokinetics and dynamics of inhaled insulin are similar in kids as it as adults. And so once that study was complete, we we wrote a protocol down to the FDA and said, We'd like to go into the next phase, and now run a larger study head to head against the standard of care. And the FDA has pretty much signed off on that protocol at this point. And we have contracted with a third party to now run that trial. And we'll be having our investigator meeting here in next month. And so hopefully, we'll see our first patient in the four to 17 year old range, probably here in September, October time frame. So super excited, long time to get here took too long from my perspective, but can't wait to help kids. But our founder Outman invested, he became very wealthy when he sold the insulin pump company. And he took $1 billion of his own money and made Afrezza inhaled insulin because he felt the problem with the injectable subcutaneous delivered insulin was it just took too long to work. And you know, somebody has an hour lag effects from food. That's real timing, it's always hard to catch those two even. And so he really wanted to make an inhaled insulin that really mimic a physiologic insulin that you see in the body. And he felt the only way you could get there was through a dry powder, lung delivered instantaneous insulin, you can also get there through an implantable pump. But that didn't work out when they tried that back in the 90s. I recall. So people got infections and things like that. So that would that didn't work. So they really were going to get a in my mind that physiologic inform that's gonna be monomeric stabilized is probably going to happen only through the inhaled route. So we have we have to get comfortable with this from overall efficacy and safety. Otherwise, you're not going to really ever get this control that people are looking for real time.
Stacey Simms 24:55
No man, he lived long enough to see Afrezza approved, didn't he?
Mike Castagna 24:59
He's All approved. And unfortunately, I'm here because he died on my daughter's birthday. So I was debating whether to come to mankind or not. And I'm very superstitious, the Al Mann pick the day he died. And he died February 25 2016. And then they made decision to join and help save the company and save a frozen kick on the market. Because I think, you know, I saw all these wonderful patients stories online. And I said, these patients like Anthony Hightower is one of them, what they did something that no one else did, they did something we never did in our clinical trials. And so I got to talk to them. And I realized we just didn't dose it properly. So you go back to the development of the product, a lot of the challenges were under dosing because everybody's trying to compare one to one to injectable insulin, and therefore one of underdosing patients, and therefore, they got equal outcomes didn't do any worse than injectable insulin per se. But could they have gotten better outcomes if we dosed improperly? Right? And I think that's, that's the state of we're now trying to generate to show that the kids buddy now be head to head, or if he knows him properly, what happens? Right, and that's we're really focused on right now.
Stacey Simms 26:01
Is there anything that you wanted to talk about that I haven't answered?
Mike Castagna 26:04
No. I mean, we're only available in the US, we're in the process of going to Europe. So I don't know if you have any. Yeah, we do. Though, so I know, we have patients on a name patient basis in Germany, and UK and Italy. So you know, their governments are actually important a president and pay for it. We're in the middle of filing for Australia. We were approved in Brazil, and we're going to India so so you'll see this more and more around the world. You have listeners in those markets. There's not gonna happen this year. And hopefully, the next year or the following year in some of these markets, we'll be looking at bringing it to more patients in those markets.
Stacey Simms 26:37
Well, and just got a big approval here in the United States for Medicare patients. Right.
Mike Castagna 26:42
Yeah. So that one, I, you know, we get a lot of questions on that one. And so you know, this market CGM patients were told you need to be injecting yourself, I think four times a day, we couldn't get your CGM. So then doctors were not getting patients Afrezza. And so we were able to ask CMS to change that, and they did to the year but rather haven't done they're not done. And so here we are a year later that that policy is now being updated. I want to thank CMS and all that you're helped make that happen. And I think it helps in people in CGN, because I understand that removes some of the other requirements to get CGM, even an injectable these patients so little mankind was the one who started that process. And then we're able to help a lot more people. So it's great. And we're trying to get Medicare $30 a month insulin. So we have Medicare listeners. And you know, we're trying to make sure we help get patients access that are on Medicare. I think that's important.
Stacey Simms 27:33
That doesn't stack up in terms of cost in the United States.
Mike Castagna 27:36
Yeah, I mean, you know, fortunately, the billion dollar debacle in this country is drug pricing, as we all know, and as a pharmacist, I know firsthand when people go through an LMS they're on how many co pays are on. And so we really have tried hard to make sure that no patients pay no more than $15. So we have copay card programs, we actually have a free drug programs, they really can't afford it, we'll give it to you for free. If you're going through the prior authorization process, we give it to you for free while you're going through that. So we all want payers and reimbursement to be the excuse of why a patient can't get access to our product, we think that people will do well on our product, we're willing to take that bet that they'll see good results. And if they see good results, the payers will usually pay for it. And it says you may or may not know that there's a monopoly in diabetes between two insulin players, and three payers, who are all working together to make sure there's no competition. You know, that's unfortunate, but they pay to make sure that patients have a difficult time getting Afrezza . And that's always one of my frustrations of competition or diseases. You know, 400 years, we've seen the precise the dispensing from 20 hours a while 95 and let's say miles, hundreds of dollars. You know, for me on the payer side, we want to make sure patients we try to bring it down to about $15 on commercial and Medicare, you know, they generally pay comparable to what they would and some Medicare plans a little bit higher I can you know, that's a hit or miss when you when you go to submit for reimbursement, but we try to do everything we can to make sure people will have access to our product
Stacey Simms 28:57
$15 for $15 for commercial patients, no, no, but what is it? What is it for? What do you get for $15? Is it a month? Is it a
Mike Castagna 29:05
my week? Yeah, whatever, whatever. You gave two boxes, three boxes, whatever is on that prescription for that month,
Stacey Simms 29:10
for the month. Okay, I didn't mean to interrupt you.
Mike Castagna 29:12
I don't think I know, I was gonna say I forgot we actually have a cash pay program. And people are paying cash for their insulin. And we do see several 1000 people a month paying cash for injectable insulin, we have influenced savings comm where it's $99 a month for frezza. And you know, can you a bigger box or more doses, you might pay 199 but we tried to make the cash price, you know, roughly $100 a month. If we if you had no insurance, for example.
Stacey Simms 29:37
I'm not sure you can answer this question. But I will ask it anyway, is the biggest challenge for you all the failure of exubera? Is it just people not knowing what this is? You know, as you move forward, you know, what is the big challenge to get more people to adopt us?
Mike Castagna 29:51
I mean, for me, the biggest challenge are the doctors. We created a program we basically gave it for free to patients for two years for 15 bucks. Like no no priority. Nothing, we just charge you $15. And that didn't change a lot of doctors from jumping on board. And doctors just don't know our data. And so they think this product doesn't have a lot of data behind it. And they don't know our data, they don't know. Like when I would ask a doctor, how fast from the time you inject your bolus, your pump to the time you look on a CGM, that your institute sugars are coming down, and I get in these endocrinologist, I'll get five minutes and mediate and 20 minutes an hour, the answers, I need 90 minutes, 220 minutes, that's the answer. And so they don't even know the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics differences between injectable insulin inhaled, and then you have doctors, right, you know, calling some of these ultra acting drugs faster, we'll look at the package inserts, they're no faster than their old products. And there's a lot of misperceptions out there some of these newer launches of old tracking insulin, and to me they're, they're really not that much different than the predecessor and look at the data, you know, there's not a faster, there's not dramatically faster onset or offset or, you know, a one c lowering or weight gains on very much the same. So, no, I think it's just a matter of doctors trying to really understand the data.
Stacey Simms 31:02
Before I let you go, are there any plans in the future to change anything about the way it looks? or different colors? I mean, I know it sounds kind of silly, when you're just trying to get people to adopt the new technology, but from a user standpoint, and look, I know, you've heard all the jokes of my friends who use this will make you can't comment on designers. They don't say anything, they'll make comments like, you know, taking a hit or whatever, right? I mean, it's it's inhaling, it's this little thing that you're, you're inhaling, it looks a certain way. I'm curious if the cosmetics of it are anything that are on your radar, or needs to be improved even?
Mike Castagna 31:36
No, I mean, I think when you spend, you know, $3,000,000,000.20 years doing a new drug development or taking 100 year old product and reinventing it, you had to get that right in terms of device design and airflow dynamics and consistency. And those. And I think all that's really important because, you know, misperception that oh, my God, it's going to be less can be more variable than injectable insulin. And the data just doesn't support that statement. And so for us, we have one of the world's most unique installation platforms across the entire pharmaceutical industry, we deliver more power to the lung, the most technologies out there. So that's why you can get consistency, those two those, and you don't have a lot of variabilities, because our technology and our device is called a low velocity inhaler. And what that means is there's a resistor that helps slow the powders as they're coming out of the inhaler. So they get deep into the lungs. And that's why you get that nice absorption curves that we see. And we're most inhalers or high gloss inhalers. So it's just enough sucking air as hard as you can, and hoping you get you know, 20 30% of lung drug into your lungs, and mostly stuck in your teeth to device in the back of your throat. That's most dry powder inhaler technologies out there today. And so that's something unique to us and our technology and our device, they all work really well together, you couldn't just take our powder and put into another inhaler, and or just as well would not work. So yeah, we're pretty happy with the device I we are going to other diseases. So you know, we're we're going down to the FDA with our partner for an approval in October for pulmonary hypertension patients. And we have several other orphan lung areas we're going into to help more patients with lung disorders. So you know, I think that's important, like our, our technology, our inhaler, our platform is gonna be used in more and more patients over the next decade than just diabetes.
Stacey Simms 33:13
Well, that's what I was gonna ask is, if it works, so well, you know, will you partner with other medications? That's great to hear.
Mike Castagna 33:18
Yeah, you know, we're really busy, we probably have about 10 to 12 formulations of products working on this year and five marone products in the pipeline. And so it's it's a really good time of mankind, we're super excited to be here. And it was a turnaround, the company struggled for many, many years. And we're on our way to success. And I think, firstly, you'll be you'll be hearing more about it. So I know it's been a long time. And maybe you didn't talk to us yet. But hopefully you'll talk to us more and more as we continue to generate new data and more more patients start using it.
Stacey Simms 33:45
I'd love to, I'd love to, especially with the kids programs. And like I said, I've got a 16 year old who is very curious about this. And, you know, once once safe and effective. Once we get all that safety stuff in here. It's mom says, you know, I'll definitely I know, I would like to check it out. So I really appreciate you coming on and spending so much time with me and my listeners and explaining all this and we'll definitely talk again. Thanks, Mike.
You're listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
More information at Diabetes connections.com. Always on the episode homepage. I also have a transcription as well, sometimes those podcast players don't display the show notes and the links. So if you have any trouble, just go back to Diabetes connections.com. And I just want to say that I did reach out to have Mike or somebody from Afrezza on the show. And you heard him say, you know, it's been a while, um, you know, it just took a while to connect to the right person. Let's just say that, and I will have them back on because lots of good stuff is happening. As you heard.
I want to take a second and kind of explain Monomeric insulin and, you know, I'll be honest with you. The scientific points here are really not my strong suit. I'm a communications major, right. So I did what I always do, and I am People who know a lot more than I do to help me explain it. I went to the Facebook group Diabetes Connections as a group. And you know, I said, How do you explain monomeric insulin I know it's faster. And Tim Street, who is just wonderful and runs the diabettech.com page that's like diabetes tech diabetic, and I'll link that up as well. He provided this explanation, which really brought it home for me, and boy, I hope I'm pronouncing everything correctly.
So Tim wrote, insulin naturally links its chains together to form stable molecules. Typically it connects two together and then links three of those two chains together. Additionally, to create six This is highly stable and described as hexameric. In order to use these chains, you have to break the molecules apart to single chains, which are monomers. Typically fast acting insulins are stored as dimers, two monomers connected, which are easier to split, then hexamers. by storing the insulin as a single chain, a monomer, the body doesn't have to break the chains to instantly use the insulin molecule it receives. And that is why Afreeza wraps the monomeric form in the capsules, to make it ultra fast.
Thank you, Tim, that actually made a lot of sense. I gotta tell you, we have the smartest people and the kindest people in this Facebook group. If you're not there yet, and you want to join, come on in, I highly recommend it. You don't have to be a Tim Street. You don't have to be able to explain these concepts. You do have to be nice. And you do have to not post a lot of drama. I'm very tough on my diabetes groups. I run two of them. They're very nice and friendly places for a reason. But Tim, seriously, thank you so much. That was a great explanation. And I really appreciate it.
Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. If you're a veteran, the Dexcom g six continuous glucose monitoring system is now available at VA pharmacies in the United States. Qualified veterans with type one and type two diabetes may be covered. Picking up your Dexcom supplies at the pharmacy may save you a lot of time to connect with your doctor for more info Dexcom even has a discussion guide you can bring with you get that guide and find out more about eligibility. It's email@example.com backslash veterans, and all the information is always at Diabetes connections.com.
Before I let you go, just a quick note about back to school, I have never done less. I packed up a bag for Benny to bring to the nurse. He brings his daily supplies with him every day in his backpack. But of course, like most people, our nurse has backup supplies for him. So I put those together. He brought them in along with our plan or orders, you know from our endo. And that was it. I haven't set foot in the building. I'm not sure when I will go in or if I will go in probably when you forget something or they run out there. But I've never done less work. You know, I did a lot of work over the years to go to school and meet with people and he's got it. So not much to report. It feels very strange. All right.
Please join me this Wednesday when we have our in the news live on Facebook every Wednesday at 430 and then we turn that into a podcast episode. I love doing that. It's been a lot of fun. I hope you're enjoying it. Give me your news tips. If you've got any from this week, just email me Stacey at Diabetes connections.com thanks as always to my editor John Bukenas from audio editing solutions. Thank you so much for listening. I'm Stacey Simms. I'll see you back here in a couple of days until then be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged
Anticipation just keeps growing for the new Omnipod system, still waiting for FDA approval. This week, we talk to Dr. Trang Ly, Senior Vice President & Medical Director at Insulet Corporation. We’ll get an in-depth run through of the features of Omnipod 5 with Horizon, what makes it different from the other hybrid closed loops already on the market, and many other questions you all had.
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Episode Transcription Below
Stacey Simms 0:00
Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario health manage your blood glucose levels increase your possibilities by Gvoke Hypopen the first premixed auto injector for very low blood sugar, and by Dexcom take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with Dexcom.
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 0:26
This week anticipation growing for the new Omnipod 5 system still waiting for FDA approval. Many of the people behind it have waited a long time to knowing the promise of closed loop systems for people with diabetes and their families.
Dr. Trang Ly 0:42
I still remember the very first time the very first patient that I put the system on and, and I was watching that insulin being delivered. And I remember just like hugging the participants, Mom, because we just both knew how incredible this was going to be if, if this could reach masses of people.
Stacey Simms 1:04
That's Dr. Trang Ly, Senior Vice President and medical director at insulin Corporation, we'll get an in depth run through of the features of Omnipod 5 with horizon. What makes it different from the other hybrid closed loops already on the market and many other questions you all sent in.
Welcome to another week of the show. You know I'm always so glad to have you here. We aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin. As you listen to this particular episode couple of things to keep in mind, Omnipod 5 with Horizon the full name of the system we are talking about today is not out yet it is not commercially available as of this taping. This episode is live on August 3 2021. The FDA is still mulling it over. If you are looking for even more information and some of the history of this, it may be worth going back to our first episode about this system that was almost exactly two years ago with the company CEO Shacey Petrovic. And I will link that interview up in the show notes at Diabetes connections.com
COVID, really through this submission for a loop with the delays. And I didn't mean upon there with the word loop. But I know there has been frustration in the community. And there's frustration with an Insulet as well. But it really is close. Now, if you are not familiar and I know we have a lot of new listeners who've joined the show more recently. I know some of you have been hearing about this for years. But bear with me for just a moment as I explain it very quickly. You've got your Omnipod pod. That's the thing that holds and infuses the insulin, it's an all in one. It sits on the body, there's no buttons, there's no display, there's nothing to read, you've got your separate handheld controller, the thing with the display on it and the buttons are the touchscreen of how you actually control the pod when it comes to giving insulin for meals or for correction doses, that sort of thing. And for Omnipod five with horizon, you also have the Dexcom G6, the continuous glucose monitor, the pod and the CGM work together to give less or give more insulin to try to keep you in range. Now that is very, very simple. But Dr. Ly will explain it in much better detail. And I will also link up more information as always in the show notes. If you haven't ever seen what this looks like if you're curious, we'll link you up to all of the information.
Dr. Trang Ly, my guest is the Senior Vice President and medical director at Insulet. Corporation, she leads their Omnipod five automated insulin delivery system clinical program before her time at Insulet. Dr. Ly was a pediatric endocrinologist in Australia. And toward the end of the interview, we talk about how personally knowing families that will benefit from this system and systems like it, you know what that is like for her.
So my interview with Dr. Ly in just a moment, but first Diabetes Connections is brought to you buy Daario health and over the years, I finally managed diabetes better when we're thinking less about all the stuff of diabetes tasks, and that's why I love partnering with people who take the load off on things like ordering supplies, so I can really focus on Benny, the Dario diabetes success plan is all about you all the strips and lancets you need delivered to your door, one on one coaching so you can meet your milestones, weekly insights into your trends with suggestions on how to succeed get the diabetes management plan that works with you and for you, Dario is published Studies demonstrate high impact clinical results, find out more go to my dario.com forward slash diabetes dash connections.
Dr. Ly, thank you so much for spending some time with me. My listeners are very excited to get all the information that they can about this. So thanks for being with me today.
Dr. Trang Ly 4:58
Yeah, great to be program. Thanks, Stacey
Stacey Simms 5:01
you got it. Let's start with an overview. I know that most people listening are probably very familiar with what we think Omnipod 5 with horizon will be. But can you start by just giving us an update and taking us through what is in front of the FDA for approval as you and I are speaking today?
Dr. Trang Ly 5:17
Yeah, so happy to do so the Omnipod five system that you're referring to is Omnipod, or Insulet, first automated insulin delivery system. So this system, he has previously known as horizon or the Omnipod, five algorithm on the pod itself. And it talks directly with the ICGM, which is the Dexcom G6 sensor, and also has a separate controller device as well to be able to remotely deliver boluses and stop and start automated mode, the system that some kind of FDA just requires you to wear a pod and a CGM to stay in automated delivery, because the algorithm is on the pod itself. And I think that is the key feature of the Omnipod five system,
Stacey Simms 6:14
a lot to break down there. And we'll get to each of the components. But let's start there with the kind of the brains of the operation being on the pod. What does that mean, in a practical sense when someone is wearing the system that they don't have to worry about it stopping that sort of thing?
Dr. Trang Ly 6:27
Yeah. So the The key difference between previous products is that with our current Omnipod dash and earlier versions of Omnipod, the pod delivers the basil programs and the bolus delivery that the user has initiated. And so insulin is not under automated delivery. But in our future system with Omnipod. Five watch the pod does is that takes the CGM value which you wear on body and so that value directly communicate with the pod itself. And then the system and the algorithm on the pod takes that CGM value and determines how much insulin you need every five minutes. If you're running high, and you need a little bit more influence, the pod will automatically increase insulin delivery. And if you're at your target or dropping low, it will augment insulin delivery, so it might suspend or it might reduce the insulin that you need. That is the key difference between the product that is available today. And the future with Omnipod. Five,
Stacey Simms 7:38
you would still use the PDM or the phone and we'll get to that to give yourself a meal bolus or a correction bolus.
Dr. Trang Ly 7:47
That's right. For those instances where you're about to have a meal. Or if you're running high for whatever reason, like you underestimated carbs earlier, and you want to give a manual bolus, you can do that any time. And you would do that by using the controller device or PDM, to enter in your carbs, and use our bolus calculator to deliver that insulin. So all of those features are very similar to the current production on the pod dash, which again, is very similar to our earlier version. So that's on the pod.
Stacey Simms 8:24
Let's talk about the algorithm a little bit. I know there's a lot that's proprietary here. But I'm curious, we've seen over the last couple of years, Medtronic come out with a you know, an automated device. Tandem has control IQ, I believe my listeners are pretty familiar with the workings of those, what would be the biggest differences between how those systems work and how Omnipod 5 with horizon will work.
Dr. Trang Ly 8:49
I'm very familiar with those algorithms. Because I, you know, in my previous life, I worked very quickly with those systems as they were being developed. And so I say, you know, having been in this role for the last five years and been running the clinical trials. For them, I can tell you that the main difference I'd say would be that our algorithm, you can set the target glucose for whatever time of day. And the range we have is between 110 to 150, in 10 milligram per deciliter increments. And you might have a family where you want to go overnight, you want to run out and 20 because you feel more comfortable at 120 overnight, and then but during the day you want to run at 110 you can set up a profile so that the algorithm augments insulin delivery to your preferred target glucose level. And, you know, we we knew when we were coming to market that we were not going we certainly weren't the first and not the second product market. So we knew that we had to deliver a level of personalization for our users. So we really listened to what people wanted. And people do want that level of personalization and customization. And so we implemented that design feature into our clinical trial to demonstrate that our system performs very safely across those different target glucose level. Until our clinical studies which show we'll get into Dude, what was tested across a very wide range of patients, for initially, we did a beam study, which was for patients aged six to 70 years of age. And then most recently, just a couple weeks ago, we were reported on our preschool age participants who were between two to six years of age, and they see I'm sure you'll appreciate that they're young. glucose control is just very variable, very unpredictable. And, you know, I think strength of our algorithm is that it works very well, even if you, you know, Miss or skip a bolus, occasionally, you know, that algorithm is going to kick in, it's going to deliver, you know, a decent amount of insulin to get you back in range, it's going to happen immediately, but it's calling to do its best to keep you in the range as much as possible. And similar, I'd say to the other systems, especially, I'd say more second generation systems is that we are getting, you know, excellent timing range, especially in the overnight period.
Stacey Simms 11:32
It was I laughed a little when you said preschool, as you know, My son was diagnosed before he was two. And whenever I see studies with little kids that work so well, it's so exciting, because you know, that age group, they can't even tell you when they're feeling weird. They can't stomach my son couldn't even pronounce the word diabetes. So it's a different age group altogether. So I was thrilled to see those results.
Dr. Trang Ly 11:53
I know, well, I have two kids under five right now, and they don't have diabetes. And I have no idea how much they're going to ace or whether or not you know how much activity they're going to do. And I just can't even fathom how challenging it would be to have a child with diabetes. And are they low? Or are they or as I just grumpy? asleep,
Stacey Simms 12:18
I didn't have enough. Oh, my goodness, I should have said this towards the beginning. And I know, I know Dr. Like that, you know, this, we use control IQ. We're very happy with the Tandem, but we're not rooting for any system here. I think that the and I say we I mean me, I it's so exciting to see all of these systems beginning to come to market beginning to really have an impact to have differences in their algorithms so that people can pick and choose exactly what they want. And we're just at the beginning of it. So I am so excited to see the study's going so well, I have a couple of questions about what you've already mentioned, on that target of 110 to 150, just to be crystal clear about it, you're talking about not just putting the pump into say using Tandem, for example, exercise mode or sleep mode, you're seeing in you know, my weekday profile, for example, I know my son plays basketball every day from three to seven so we're going to create a profile that changes his blood glucose target for that period of time, perhaps starting you know, before he plays a little bit and then extending after and that's an actual profile in the pump that you then could change. Okay, perfect. All right, that's really interesting. Is there an Is there a and I hate to use Tandem is word sorry, is there an exercise mode or a sleep mode? Or is it just the user sets it as they want?
Right back to Dr. Ly answering that question. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by tchibo hypo pin and you know, low blood sugar feels horrible. You can get shaky and sweaty or even feel like you're gonna pass out there are a lot of symptoms and they can be different for everyone. I'm so glad we have a different option to treat very low blood sugar Jeeva hypo pen, it's the first auto injector to treat very low blood sugar chivo Kibo pen is premixed and are ready to go with no visible needle before Jeeva people needed to go through a lot of steps to get glucagon treatments ready to be used. This made emergency situations even more challenging and stressful. This is so much better. I'm grateful we have it on hand find out more go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the G book logo g book shouldn't be used in patients with pheochromocytoma or insulinoma visit Jeeva glucagon comm slash risk. Now back to Dr. Ly. Going into more detail about how the Omnipod 5with horizon system works.
Dr. Trang Ly 14:36
Separate but yes, what you describe is exactly how our product works or during the day. It might be that you want your son to run out 110 through the day but maybe between the hours of three and seven you'd run at 140 that is an option. And you can set that up pre programmed so that he doesn't have to remember to do that every day or you can run in what we call a hyper protect mode, which is work similarly to like attempt days or that you you'll be familiar with. So that's more of an ad hoc, oh, I feel like exercising for the next two hours, I'm going to set my program in hyper protect mode. And hyper protect, what the system does is it adjusts your target glucose to 150. And it actually gives you less insulin than your basal insulin. So you're running essentially with less insulin on board than you would normally would during that period. And so we we did a lot of studies to kind of land on that design. And we feel that he does a good job of preventing hyperglycemia for, for people without problems asked afterwards. So it has worked well, because it doesn't, you know, sometimes, when you're preparing for exercise, you might take a snack, and that drives your blood glucose up. And then if you have a really robust algorithm that might kick in and give you a fair amount of insulin. So that's what we were trying to avoid with our design was that not just that the setpoint is elevated, but also that the system can't give too much insulin during that time. So that's sort of our equivalent exercise mode. We don't have anything called sleep mode. But as I said, our set point of 110, you know, once were created will be the lowest available in the United States.
Stacey Simms 16:30
One of the things I've learned recently, and I I feel like I haven't seen this reported very widely, is that, unlike Tandem control IQ, the Omnipod system, the Omnipod, five with horizon, learns the user it changes, it has a little bit of I guess I call it artificial intelligence. Is that correct? And can you walk me through what I'm saying? What I mean by that? Yeah.
Dr. Trang Ly 16:56
Yes, yeah, I think I think you're I'm getting to a really key difference between our, our system and others. So with, with our system, when we, when we were developing it, we wanted to reduce the work that comes with diabetes, as well. And so you know, a lot of the work that comes with that is adjusting those or rate adjusting, you know, all the settings and things like that. And so our system, initially, when you, when you have it out of the box, it does rely on your basal rate to start off, automated insulin delivery. But over time, the system learns through the turtle Gary informed that is delivered by the system. So the system knows about this, and can rely on this information, because it's reliable come through the system to augment insulin delivery. So you might have a small child who only has 10 units of insulin per day. Now system is not going to give too much insulin, based upon the fact that it knows that in the last few days, it's never given more than 10 units a day. And so the safety constraints are personalized for that user. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, know, we have users that use 100 units a day. And in that case, the algorithm knows that it can give a lot more insulin, and this person will tolerate it quite fine. Because you know, when you have insulin is unlikely to make much difference for this person who takes 100 units a day. And so as it accrues that information over time, the algorithm does adapt the ability to know how much insulin it delivers based on that information. So what it means is that, in order to get the results we got, you know, you're not having to tweak basil rates on an hourly basis. Sometimes I've seen, you know, people have different basil rates every hour. And what we're really striving to do here at Insulet is create products that reduce burden for people. And that includes including, you know, optimizing settings, so that people can get, you know, so that everybody can get good glucose control and, and not have to rely on perhaps educators and clinicians at the academic centers who are familiar with these devices to really get those good results.
Stacey Simms 19:38
So I'm just trying to understand the the automatic adjustment that you're talking about there based on the total daily insulin. So if after a few weeks of using Omnipod five with Horizon, a person should expect to not adjust basil rates should like what should they be seeing because if like let's say as someone has six different basil, right When they start on the system, what what's happening? Right? What's going on? Are they Is it like the other systems where it's adjusting every five minutes, it's giving you boluses. If needed you How is the smartness of the of the pump working there?
Dr. Trang Ly 20:12
Yes, if you had six different rates running for 24 hours, initially, the algorithm would take that information and would have bent in front of every every five minutes based upon the inputs that were provided to the system, as well as how your CGM is tracking how much insulin on board, you have all of those things. So at all times, the system makes a influence decision every five minutes. So that occurs, as soon as you put the system into automated mode. That happens all the time. And when people ask me about order corrections, I say, yes, this system automates and make some adjustments every five minutes to drive you towards your target glucose. So corrections are incorporated within the system, we don't consider any difference between basil modulation and what was modulation of insulin is insulin. So every five minutes, you're getting a essentially order correction if you need it. But that works very similarly to, you know, the systems that are currently on the market. And over time, the those six basil programs that you have really not utilized in the system at all beyond that first part. And so if you are running high for whatever reason, and you know, you you tweak other things, but not your basal rate. And so I'd say in in that way, you know, our system is more similar to the Medtronic system. And in that way that the basil rates do not directly inform automated insulin delivery. But things that are still under your control at all times is influence coverage, share your correction factor, target glucose, correct above all those settings that have always been within on the pod, and also very similar across many bolus calculators all stay the same. So you're always going to be sort of always going to be directly in control of all those fat. And so if you're running high, it might might be that you need more corrections over time before your system adjusts to that higher insulin requirement. But
Stacey Simms 22:34
you're in control, oh, wait, target number, but only only down to 110? That's right. Gosh, I have so many questions with the automated systems. I think you mentioned this, but I'm not sure. What about insulin duration, is that something that the user can change? Or is that something that is set,
Dr. Trang Ly 22:50
so there, so the Dow system, the user can change that, and how it manifests itself is that it will inform the duration of insulin action for all those manual boluses that you deliver. So if you're someone who's very sensitive to insulin, and it hangs around for a really long time in your body, and you have a six hour early insulin action, then you can program that until you know your bolus of insulin that you deliver at 6am in the morning, that's going to take till midday before it disappears from the system, as it knows that all of those will still be accounted in the same way with the duration of insulin action that you provide to the system. In terms of the automated insulin delivery, we have the intellects, proprietary duration of insulin delivery, that is the input to the insulin model from which we deliver that insulin that is consistent, and is just one value. And it's the same value and the algorithm that's been tested across the board from in all of our clinical trials. So that does not change, and is within the algorithm that dictates that five minutes away insulin delivery.
Stacey Simms 24:11
To me, that was one of the big surprises of using an automated system. We have, you know, My son is 16. And we started using an automated system when he was what 14. So you're in the middle of those fabulous teenage years, and he's using tons and tons of insulin. And it seemed to me that we needed an insulin duration of like two to three hours. And when they switched it on Tandem. It's it's five, I really fought on that thinking this is going to be a disaster, and it was fine. It worked really well. So it's one of those interesting things once you get an automated system and realize this is my opinion, once you realize how much work you were doing to try to stay in range. It's kind of nice to let that system take over once you trust it. And I would assume that that's what you found in these studies. I mean, you mentioned that people spent more time in range, but let me give you the floor. Take a minute or two to talk about. I've seen the study You know, you've been kind of putting them out with different age groups over the last couple of weeks and months, take a moment to brag about the studies.
Dr. Trang Ly 25:08
Yeah, we're so grateful to the diabetes community who really gave this product life through our clinical studies. So I'm just deeply grateful for every patient and family who took part in it. Because without them, you know, be a product, but it wouldn't be Omnipod. Five. And so it was really a ton of work that we I feel like has been many years in the making. Yeah, we've worked really hard on this algorithm to get it pretty much as good as it could be. And, you know, back in 2019, as we were preparing to do these clinical studies, I really wasn't sure about how our results would stack up. But I have to say that I'm completely blown away by how well our algorithm has performed. So in the talk first about our six to 70 year old age group. So the first lot of results that came out came out in March of this year, we had essentially two groups. So we had the children, which were six to 14 years of age, and then the 14 to 17 years of age, which is the adolescent and adult group. So I was just covered the adult group there. So we saw and time in range improvement to 74% in the adult Group, a once the reduction down to 6.8%. And then very minimal hyperglycemia. If you look at our hypo compared to other published data out there, it's the lowest hypo, which we measured by time under 70, compared to all the other groups. And in terms of the children, there's six to 13.9 years of age group, we got to a timing range of 68%. And this was equivalent to 3.7 hours per day improvement. So really remarkable improvement in timing range. And in terms of a one see improvement, we got that down from 7.7%, down to 6.99%. So really remarkable reduction in a one C. And what's super, super exciting is that just recently at Ada to see or wishes a couple of weeks ago, we showed that in the extension faces after the main three month pivotal study, everyone could continue using it if they chose to. And we saw a further reduction in a one C, which is just incredible. So in both the adults and children, we saw a continued decline in a one C. So just really super exciting to see that, you know, our product continues to be helpful for these patients with diabetes.
Stacey Simms 28:05
Let's talk a little bit about the the setup of the system. You know, when in the very beginning of the interview, I asked you to kind of describe it. And it's Omnipod Dexcom, G6, and then a controller of some kind. Let's talk about the controller. Last I had heard this was going to be the PDM. If needed, the more traditional I guess you'd call it but you'll expLyn it to me or an Android phone. Tell me about the controller in the short term. And then we can talk about what you're planning.
Dr. Trang Ly 28:32
Yeah, that's right. So we will have the controller device. So we have an Insulet provided controller, which our were choosing to use that word over PDM. Because not everyone knows what a PDM is that yes, that controller device, we will always ship with our product. And so you will be able to use that in a locked down device which can only communicate with pods and can't really do much else with it. And but users will have the option to download an app from their from selected android phone to also have that same experience. So it's the exact same app that would be that would exist on the controller. And you would be able to essentially control your parts and replace that controller with the Android app.
Stacey Simms 29:25
I should have said the PDM stands for what personal diabetes manager. That's right. Okay. So that's an antiquated term now, though, so we'll put that aside. But to be clear, so if I have the right Android phone, you're seeing this is not a lockdown Android phone, I can get this the app and I can use my personal phone to control my Omnipod five with horizon system.
Dr. Trang Ly 29:47
Yes, that's right. That's what's currently in front of FDA right now.
Stacey Simms 29:51
Do you know and again, if it's up to them, or you can say I know we're limited sometimes what models or is there a list somewhere?
Dr. Trang Ly 29:57
Yeah, we haven't. I don't think We have indicators or phone models that will be available at any time. But we'll do that soon after launch will list those out that they will be as the first offering selected Android phones.
Stacey Simms 30:14
And I would assume the plan is to eventually go to all types of phones, including apple. That's right. My question for Omnipod is always what I'm about to ask you. But phone control makes it a little bit obsolete. And that is why no button on the pod why not even like a one dose one unit or something on the pod?
Dr. Trang Ly 30:34
I've been asking this, since I've had the podcast. Yeah, I think he just originated with the original design. And I think perhaps, because it really started originally with the idea of children using our device, and having that separate controller to track all the information. I think just at that time, because it was primarily a product for children, we wanted to make sure that infant delivery was always, you know, very intentional, and not unintentional. And so would always to have that remote control potential and and not have any, you know, button on the pod, which could lead to accidental or insulin deliveries, unintended,
Stacey Simms 31:21
or just a couple of laundry list type questions. Dexcom has already announced that they're going to seek FDA approval for the g7. Soon, I would assume that Omnipod will eventually, you know, work with the g7, which should users should be concerned at all about that kind of compatibility?
Dr. Trang Ly 31:38
Yeah, I think eventually, you can expect that, you know, systems that are integrated with G6 Today, we'll be working towards g seven in future. You know, I think the whole idea of interoperability reach was beheaded by the FDA really enables companies to work faster to integrate with future versions of systems. So you know, we we want to be at the leading edge of that innovation. And I think that will come with time. We I don't think we've announced any times or dates regarding that. But it is something that, you know, we fully intend to support.
Stacey Simms 32:17
And this may be another business type question. But everyone who's using Omnipod right now, what's the plan for current customers? We're getting ahead of ourselves, I know the system's not approved. But can people using arrow so dash expect to kind of be seamlessly switched over to Omnipod? Five with horizon?
Dr. Trang Ly 32:35
Yeah, I don't think we have released all the information regarding how we're going to transition our current customers. Yes, I don't think that that is publicly available yet. But we, you know, one thing we do strongly believe in is supporting our current customers. And what we have said is that Omnipod five will be available via the pharmacy channel at price parity kadesh. And so what that means that if you are already receiving cash today that you're going to be in a very good position to have coverage for Omnipod. fi. And but we haven't detailed the information regarding you know, how we're specifically transitioning every single patient at this, at this point,
Stacey Simms 33:25
separately from the pod. tide pool loop is also in front of the FDA, as you and I are speaking, I'm not even quite sure really what to ask you about this doctor, like because I know it's coming from tide pool. But can you share anything about the relationship from Omnipod to Tandem? And how the loop project is going? It's kind of a it's a different animal kind of out there. But I don't want to leave without asking you about it.
Dr. Trang Ly 33:51
Yeah, you just said Omnipod to Tandem, but I'm
Stacey Simms 33:54
so sorry. Yes.
Dr. Trang Ly 33:58
Yes, yeah. Well, that is title program. So it's best that you speak to Howard about that. But it is a program that we support. And and we certainly, you know, believe in interoperability and supporting points for our users. And yes, you're right. I believe the last update is that it is currently under review with FDA wouldn't use the dash parts, or does it use it with Omnipod? Five. So it's, it's not it's not going to be backwards compatible with dash pod
Stacey Simms 34:35
guidance. My next question was, so if Omnipod five with horizon is approved, Omnipod is manufacturing the same pods for both systems. That's right. I know you know, I'm not sure we're supposed to talk about it. But I know you know, because you've spoken to the loopers groups and you speak to people all the time that there's a bunch of people using the older pods, the arrows, pods, I believe for a nod FDA approved system, they're looping with the separate from title loop, they're looping with those pods is only going to keep making those pods once this new system is approved,
Dr. Trang Ly 35:10
we haven't said exactly when we will stop making those pods. But I think the community should expect which and I know that they already do that at some point in time in the near future, we would need to stop making those pods. And that's for a variety of reasons. But as you will know, Stacy, and many of your audience will know, you know, that is much older technology. And you know, we prioritize innovation that is going to work well and be safe for our users. You know, that's partly why we moved to dash to integrate Bluetooth technology. And then which has enabled us with Omnipod, five to talk via Bluetooth to CGM. So that type of safe integration is really important to us in our future offerings of product. And so at some point in time, that will, we will need to start making that and also, you know, that is with all the technology, all the components, and etc. So, once that happens, though, we will let the community know with sufficient time so that people can prepare for alternative methods of therapy. And hopefully that will be Omnipod. Five,
Stacey Simms 36:25
you've been so generous with your time, I just have a couple of more questions. I really appreciate it. One of the questions that was asked in the podcast Facebook group was when approved, how will the training for this go? In other words, with control IQ, I sat down, I took a course I took a quiz. And once I passed it, my doctor had written a prescription. And we got the downloadable, you know, into the pump. And we were off and running did not meet with a diabetes educator or an endocrinologist to learn how to use control IQ. What will the system be for teaching people and getting Omnipod? Five to them?
Dr. Trang Ly 36:58
Yeah, so for people who are already using Omnipod dash, you can expect that the experience will be similar to what you just described for control IQ. So you will not have to meet someone in person in order for you to start that system up. So it will be similar in a training quiz, number of steps. But you can do it all self directed and be often running on Omnipod. Five, or you can choose to speak to someone or meet in person with an educator if you wanted more information about for instance, how the algorithm works or whatever question you had on your mind. But for brand new users who've never used a pump before, then it will there will always be in person training, or virtual training. You know, there's some things that you we still feel that is necessary to cover, you know, basics of pump therapy that will require meeting with their certified trainer to go through. But yes, we're current on the Pog dashes as you can expect the transition to be fairly seamless.
Stacey Simms 38:08
Another question that came up was about insurance coverage, but particularly Medicare. Can you speak to that? Yeah. So
Dr. Trang Ly 38:15
currently, we have Medicare coverage under Part D, which allows for pharmacy coverage of the pod. So we do have that. And they only came in recently in the last I'd say three years or so. So once that came through CMS, we worked with many plans to get Omnipod covered under that peptides for Medicare. So one of the things that, you know, we're working on well, FDA clearances, is still under review, we are working on making sure that we get as many people covered as possible. When Lord, they come. So yeah, it's a major priority for us to make sure that our patients get covered for this product.
Stacey Simms 39:06
You referred back a couple times to your days as a pediatric endocrinologist. How exciting is this for you? You know, the people that use this product, you know, the people that use other automated pumps. Can you speak a little bit just from your personal side about the excitement because you know, this is going to help people?
Dr. Trang Ly 39:25
Yeah, it's just incredibly exciting. And maybe not everyone knows about this. But yes, Stacy, as you mentioned, I am a pediatric endocrinologist. And it's actually about 10 years ago now, but I did my very first study in automated insulin delivery and that was back in Perth in Western Australia. And in that study, we use a Medtronic pump add to Medtronic sensors and a blackberry phone and the algorithm was on a blackberry phone and it was I haven't mentioned this to many people. But those those sensors were, you know, were challenging at times to deliver insulin from. But it was such important studies, in terms of proof of concept to show that, you know, we could augment insulin delivery and, and making that decision every five minutes gets you in better glucose control. And it was really extraordinary. And I still remember the very first time, the very first patient that I put the system on, and, you know, and I was watching that insulin being delivered. And I remember just like hugging the participants, Mom, because, you know, we just both knew how incredible this was going to be if, if this could reach masses of people, it's always been for me, something that will be realized. And, you know, it has been through really great products like control IQ. And you know, soon Omnipod five will be out with a great algorithm. And because we just know that this type of technology is what is going to allow parents to sleep at night and let people be comfortable with their diabetes and be more confident about it so that they can focus their brains on other life decisions and not be so consumed by their diabetes. And so it is really incredible for me to be able to see the results of our algorithm just works so well in such a huge population of patients, even in just in clinical trials today. And I just know that there's going to be incredible impact from this product in future when we launched.
Stacey Simms 41:47
Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing so much information. We're all excited to see what happens next. And I hope that you are you know, other folks or Insulet will come on and share more information, you know, fingers crossed as the rollout happens. So thanks so much for joining me.
Dr. Trang Ly 42:02
Thank you so much. So happy to be on.
You're listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 42:15
Lots more information at Diabetes connections.com. I know the one question everybody asks that we cannot answer is when will this be available, it will be available when the FDA approves it. And you know, that could come any minute it could come in a few months, you know, we are not privy to that information. But once it is available, it will take a little while to roll out. So Omnipod I'm sure we'll make a lot more information available as we move forward. We'll talk to them again. And we will answer as many questions as possible. Also got a lot of questions about insurers, that's going to depend as well, quite often, insurers will not initially cover new products. I know Omnipod is talking with everybody. But it may take a little bit of time. So we'll circle back on all of that it is difficult to pick and choose the listener questions that I asked but I really try to focus on what I know the person that I'm talking to can answer and I thought Dr. Ly was was really fabulous and spoke to me frankly, for longer than I expected. So I really appreciate her sharing so much information with us. And I hope you found that helpful.
All right. Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. And I do want to talk for a moment about control IQ. You heard me mention that several times during the interview. That is the Dexcom G6 Tandem pump software integration. When it comes to Benny's numbers, you know, I hardly expect perfection I want I'm happy I'm healthy. I have to say control IQ has exceeded my expectations, Vinny is able to do less checking and bolusing and is spending more time in range. His last couple of Awan C's were his lowest ever and this isn't a teenager, the time when I was really prepared for him to be struggling. His sleep is better to with basil adjustments possible every five minutes, the system is working hard to keep them in range. And that means we hear far fewer Dexcom alerts, which means everybody's sleeping better. I'm really so grateful for this. Of course individual results may vary. To learn more, go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Dexcom logo.
Before I let you go, we're actually traveling this week. So the interview with Benny about Israel is coming up and thank you so much for all of the questions that you have sent in. There was a Facebook group posted Diabetes Connections of the group. If you want to chime in and ask me some questions to ask my son who recently got home from one month overseas. He is 16 and he was with a camp group but it was not a diabetes camp. He's home safe and I've done some debriefing with him. It was really interesting. And Gosh, teenage boys. So interesting. I can't wait to share some of his stuff with you. And some things I'm not sure I will share. No I mean we're pretty much an open book but he right he doesn't really handle diabetes exactly the same as I would but home safe and sound and really did very, very well. reminder that on Wednesdays I do in the news live On Facebook on Diabetes Connections, the Facebook page, and that becomes a podcast episode on Fridays I, as I said, I'm traveling, so hopefully technically all will go well, we shall see. But that in the news episode has become a lot of fun, frankly, and people really enjoy that still short, so I'll put that out as well.
And then in the weeks to come, I have some great interviews for you. We have interviews about sports and being very active. I have an interview with the folks that have Afrezza that I'm really excited to bring to you. It's been a while since we spoke to them. And of course, that interview with Benny, so lots to come. thank you as always to my editor John Bukenas from audio editing solutions. I thank you so much for listening. I'm Stacey Simms. I'll see you back here in just a couple of days until then, be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged
What do we know about the upcoming Dexcom G7? Find out in this conversation with company CEO Kevin Sayer. As usual we have a long list of questions from you covering everything from adhesives to watches to more. Sayer shares details about how they’re preparing for the G7 rollout (it has not yet been submitted to the FDA), as well as issues with Medicare, integration with their current pump partners and when arms will become an approved wear site for US customers.
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Episode Transcription below
Stacey Simms 0:00
Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario Health: manage your blood glucose levels, increase your possibilities, by Gvoke HypoPen: the first premixed autoinjector for very low blood sugar, and by Dexcom: help make knowledge your superpower with the Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitoring system.
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 0:29
This week, a Dexcom update from the company's CEO. As usual, we have a long list of questions from you, covering everything from adhesives to watches to more about the upcoming G7.
Kevin Sayer 0:41
And the goal is to simplify CGM for everybody across the board. What I often say is everything you love about G6, you'll love more about G7. The size is so small, you don't really recognize it's on your body. It's really a great profile, a little bigger than a nickel.
Stacey Simms 0:56
CEO Kevin Sayer will also share details about how they're preparing for the G7 rollout once it's approved, as well as details about Medicare and use but their pump partners. This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, contact your health care provider. Welcome to another week of the show, always so glad to have you here. You know, we aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin. I'm your host, Stacey Simms, my son Benny was diagnosed back in 2006, just before he turned two. He is now 16 and a half. My husband lives with Type 2 Diabetes. I do not have diabetes, but I have a background in broadcasting. And that is how you get the podcast. My usual disclaimer, whenever we have them on, Dexcom is a sponsor of this show, you will hear their commercial later on. It's because we love the products. But when we have people from Dexcom on as guests to give you information, they don't tell me what to ask or what to say outside of that commercial. And I just want to take a minute to say, I very much appreciate Kevin Sayer and others from Dexcom being so accessible over the years, you know, they don't always answer my questions, but at least they come on and address them and listen to them. There are a lot of companies that are very reluctant to even do that, who won't come on the show. And that's really unfortunate because you, as you listen, and you know the diabetes community overall, I'm very much entitled to speak to these people and to these companies. So I will keep pushing nicely, but I'll keep pushing, I promise.
Quick heads up, there will likely be no longer format episode like this one next week. I'm still gonna do the "In the News" episodes that I have added live on Facebook and then turning them into podcast episodes. But I am, as you listen, if you're listening as this episode is going live, I'm at Friends for Life. I'm at that conference. They're having it again. I'm so excited. It's the first diabetes conference I have attended since February, no, since the first week of March of 2020. I went to a JDRF conference in Wilmington, just as COVID was beginning, it was very weird. If you did anything, any kind of public event in March of 2020, you remember that. But I'm back, they're back, I'm at Friends for Life. And I really don't want to rush out an episode. But if anything exciting or you know, breaking news happens or I'm able to record something and put it out, I will. But just a heads up, likely no episode next week.
Alright, and this week, not much of an introduction needed. Kevin Sayer is the CEO of Dexcom. And this interview focuses on some of what came out of the recent ADA scientific sessions and ATTD conferences. But mostly I share your concerns and your questions. We've covered a lot of these issues before, I don't ask a lot of follow up about things that, in my opinion, you can easily Google up. As usual, I had limited time with Sayer, who was doing back-to-back interviews. So if you have a specific question or if things went by very quickly, definitely jump into the Facebook group. You can comment on the post with this episode. We have some amazing members who will answer your questions, who will show you where to find the information. It's likely a previous episode, but we have people in clinical trials, we have people who were in on a lot of the investor calls. They listen, they take notes, they're fantastic. So if you haven't joined Diabetes Connections the group on Facebook, I highly recommend it.
My interview with Kevin Sayer here in just a moment. But first, Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Gvoke HypoPen and you know low blood sugar feels horrible. You can get shaky or sweaty or even feel like you're gonna pass out. There are lots of symptoms and they can be different for everyone. I am so glad we have a different option to treat very low blood sugar. Gvoke HypoPen, it's the first auto-injector to treat very low blood sugar. Gvoke HypoPen is pre-mixed, it's ready to go with no visible needle. Before Gvoke, people needed to go through a lot of steps to get glucagon treatments ready to be used. And this made emergency situations even more challenging and stressful. This is so much better and I'm grateful we have it on hand. Find out more, go to Diabetes-connections.com and click on the Gvoke logo. Gvoke shouldn't be used in patients with pheochromocytoma or insulinoma. Visit gvokeglucagon.com/risk.
Kevin, thank you so much for jumping on with me. Another busy time for you, as so many presentations, lots of studies, lots of news, lots of upcoming and anticipated news. So I appreciate you spending some time with me and my listeners.
Kevin Sayer 5:11
Oh, thank you for having me. It's always fun.
Stacey Simms 5:13
Let's set the table a little bit here. We are following up on the ATTD conference and you are in the midst. Dexcom, as we're speaking of ADA, this is all still virtual though, right?
Kevin Sayer 5:25
It's all still virtual, yeah. I was looking, was hopeful earlier this year it might be in person, but not yet, probably not till next year.
Stacey Simms 5:33
Well, as we look through the news that is coming out of both of these conferences, I could just start out by saying it's kind of, I'm not sure victory lap is the right phrase here. But it does seem that almost every study is basically, Kevin. CGM works, it's good, it helps, we get better outcomes from it. So let me just give you a moment to talk about some of that. Because there were so many, we can't really touch on all those studies.
Kevin Sayer 5:58
There are so many studies, and it's good for a number of different groups as well. You've got all the automated insulin delivery studies, and other than Medtronic's product, all these other studies are powered by Dexcom. You've got stuff in the UK, France, Insulet Tandem in the US, there's a lot of good news on the automated insulin delivery system front. And all these works are powered by Dexcom G6 right now, you've got studies that we presented at ATTD ast week, or that were presented by physicians that we're very well aware of. The mobile study, which was for patients with Type Two Diabetes who are on basal insulin only. You know, when you start a study like that, it's kind of a risk, because you ask yourself the question, "What happens if it doesn't work?" Well, it works. And what we learned is these patients, even though they're not making a decision every four or five, six hours, for eating, they are making decisions about what they eat, and what they do and how they exercise when they can see data. And they can see the effects of what goes on in their lives. And their time in range goes up significantly, if they can see what their time and range is, you know, they've been operating in the dark, and people would argue that they don't need it all the time, like I do. And so that study, we think is just really good and will be the basis, hopefully someday for getting CGM coverage for that group of patients. And so we'll push on that one. There was another study we had last week, or at ATTD. Early in the month, published in Belgium, where a coalition of diabetes gurus I guess, over there's the best I'd call them, it's really all the leaders in the Belgian diabetes community, took a bunch of intermittent CGM users and put them on Dexcom G6 for an extended period of time. And then we looked to see what happened. And what we saw is on real time CGM, the patients are better in every category, every single category, time in range, hyper(glycemia), hypo(glycemia), you name it, they did better. So we really did validate the Dexcom equation over competitors with that study. And we think it's very important and they realize real time CGM, it is important, it is important for data (to) be accessible. And the alerts are something that you can use. There are other studies being presented by other people in the Type Two, Arena-Kiser's got a study where they show patients do well on, Doulas got several studies, they're across the board. And the evidence is building for these other markets. But it starts at the beginning, obviously with automated insulin delivery and, and we work our way down. But we've had information presented across the board showing the utility of Dexcom. And if you've been to this study, this meeting 10 years ago, like I was when I first started here, my literally, my first month was my first Dexcom ADA, nobody even knew who we were. And those who did said yeah, the product's not real great. So times have changed pretty dramatically.
Stacey Simms 8:41
Do you remember what that first study that was presented at ADA or ATTD? Which one it was that you were there for 10 years ago? I'm curious of that.
Kevin Sayer 8:50
Back in the day?
Stacey Simms 8:50
Kevin Sayer 8:51
First study, we didn't even present studies. Back then, we, I will tell you the most important study we did, we did a study in where we first got ADA recognition, we did a study with our G4 system against a competitor in Europe. And we got a bunch of recognition there. And then the next study that really got us a lot of recognition in ADA meeting was our DIaMonD study where we show the people on multiple daily injections. If they went to CGM, they would get much better results. What it was hard for me to learn is you don't say I want to do a study like this and get it done in a week. It takes a couple of years to accumulate all the proper data, process it, develop all the subsets and everything. And so my patience has been has been level set with respect to studies like this. And there's multiple studies going on in the field that will be presented over the next several years.
Stacey Simms 9:44
All right. Well, that's a really good segue to moving ahead, because, as you know, my listeners are very interested in this technology. And the slide that probably got the most attention in our groups was one that was presented at ATTD about introducing the Dexcom G7, showing all of the features of this. So let me, I'm not going to go through all of them, obviously. And you and I've talked about this many times before, but faster warm up. It's smaller, simple application, all in one. This is all still part of the plan, as we had talked about before.
Kevin Sayer 10:19
Stacey Simms 10:19
Kevin Sayer 10:20
Yeah. And, you know, we started working on the G7 before G6 was even in clinical trials. The G7 is a project we've envisioned for a long time, Verily, actually it was Google Health before then, Verily was a partner with us in designing this product, and we (were) working out for quite some time. And the goal is to simplify CGM for everybody across the board, what I often say is everything you love about G6, you'll love more about G7, the size is so small, you don't really recognize that it's on your body. It's really a great profile, a little bigger than a nickel. We're running this study with arm and abdomen indications. And while patients wear them wherever they want, we're going to show you that it can be worn wherever you want. And I think that's a big deal, that we go ahead and do the work to do that. The faster warmup is kind of mind-blowing when you put a G7 up and then you look after you pair it. And then you look and see you only got 25 minutes left, it's like, oh, wow, I don't have to do the two hour countdown. You know the accuracy and performance that Jake presented at ATTD shows that we're not, we're not ever going to go easier on the performance side and say good enough, we always push ourselves to offer something that will keep people safe and confident with what they have. The app is completely new, we'll build things into the app over time, like automated, the frequently asked questions feature we have now but we're just gonna keep making it better. Some of the features of our Clarity system will ultimately be in the app. So you'll get more information. When you go to it and look at it out of the get go. You know, we'll get it approved. It'll be a while before our partners have integrated their systems. But we're working with Insulet and Tandem already on G7 integration, it'll be able to talk to multiple devices at the same time. Its manufacturing cost ultimately will be less expensive. It's been designed for an automated process. And we've got fully automated lines up and running to assemble the G7 sensors. We have, in fairness, have automated G6 lines up and running now too, but we've got special transmitter lines and center lines and those kinds of things. It is going to be, a really, the most advanced CGM ever.
Stacey Simms 12:25
Well, you've touched on a couple of listener questions already in that testing alternate sites, including arms, integration with the systems that are already using G6, so I don't want to spend a lot of time going in depth on things that you've mentioned. But in the slide it said direct to watch capability.
Right back to Kevin clarifying what was meant in that slide. But first, Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario Health and bottom line, you need a plan of action with diabetes. We've been lucky that Benny's endo has helped us with that and that he understands the plan has to change as Benny he gets older, you want that kind of support so take your diabetes management to the next level with Dario. Their published studies demonstrate high impact results for active users like improved in-range percentage within three months, reduction of A1C within three months and a 58% decrease in occurrences of severe hyperglycemic events. Try Dario's diabetes success plan and make a difference in your diabetes management. Go to https://mydario.com/diabetes-connections for more proven results and for information about the plan. Now back to Kevin Sayer, answering my question about what the company means when it says the Dexcom G7 has direct to watch capability.
Kevin Sayer 13:44
Capability. Yeah, it won't go there first pass. But we had to have different electronics and a different radio set to go direct to watch than what we have in G6. And it's easier to get us to change than it is to get Apple changed or to change their watch. And so as we were doing the G7 system, we did contemplate that. So it is configured to do so, I do not believe it's in the first release. But it will be not long after that. We'll have a direct to watch capability. And we know people really want that, the watch presents interesting problems. And we can all sit and say we want that. But you have to charge your watch every day or at least every 36 hours. Where are you getting your alerts if you're direct to watch and it's on the charger? And you're in different parts of your house? There's complexities to the watch that go far beyond just direct to connect. And particularly with the FDA who've used the alerts in the alarms and the connectivity is so important that we had to make sure we do it right. So we'll work on that and get it wired appropriately. But I look, I know what something I would want If I were a user. So we continue to push for it.
Stacey Simms 14:44
Just to follow up on that. When you say it won't be in the first iteration of it but you know, it'll be, it's capable, it'll come, that it kind of implies that you figured out what to do with the alerts and alarms when someone hangs it up to charge.
Kevin Sayer 14:56
I don't know what they have figured out. I just know they're addressing it all. I have to plead the fifth, I just, as I've asked that question, they said, "Well, here's a problem. How are you going to deal with that?" I said, "Well, you guys don't have to tell me." They'll come up with the right answer, Stacey.
Stacey Simms 15:09
Alright, so, I'm sure they will, but to say direct to watch capability, there's a little parentheses that says when we figure it out,
Kevin Sayer 15:15
Oh, I know we're working on it, but...
Stacey Simms 15:17
Kevin Sayer 15:18
But Stacey, we couldn't even go direct to watch before with the electronics. We couldn't go direct to watch with a G6 transmitter, the G7 electronics stack and configuration is such that it can go direct to the watch, we could not with G6.
Stacey Simms 15:32
Okay. Many more questions. My listeners are very, of course, interested in the adhesive changes. Is the G6 to G7 change, I know you're addressing this, I know you're testing it, we've got emails from people who are in different trials for adhesive and reactions and things like that. And I have lots of questions, people say it's getting better, other people say it's getting worse. Anecdotally, it's very difficult, obviously, for me to know. Talk to me a little bit about those changes and how it's improving.
Kevin Sayer 15:58
Well, we've tested numerous adhesives before we landed on the adhesive we selected for G7. One of the reasons we kept the product life down to 10 days is to make sure we have enough adhesive to get to that 10 days. We'll be putting the overpatch in every box. So if somebody wants an overpatch, they don't have to call us. So everybody should be thrilled with that one. And it's quite easy to use, we're hopeful that there's no allergy with G7. Somebody's always gonna have a reaction, that's just physiology, but we're working with new tapes for G6 already, where it will hopefully have something. The things that cause a lot of the allergic reaction in G6 we've eliminated from the G7 manufacturing process. So we're hopeful that a lot of this stuff goes away on its own, we'll monitor it very quickly. But we've already got four or five other G7 adhesives in test in addition to the ones that we're going to launch with, to make sure we can create better options in the future if we need to. So, you know, stay tuned on that one, we are comfortable. As I sit here, we will not have the same level of reaction that we would have at G6 when we change it. But yeah, we won't know till we're out there.
Stacey Simms 17:09
Yeah. And you mentioned the 10-day wear and part of that being for adhesive. But my understanding is that the idea is for 14-day wear for Dexcom G7.
Kevin Sayer 17:19
Stacey Simms 17:20
Kevin Sayer 17:21
Eventually, not again, not first pass. We'll get it approved with 10-day data, very important to us is that we provide our customers with the experience they paid for and they signed up for. And we've looked at competitors' reliability data, how many make it out to 14 days, or how many make it to seven days if they only have seven, and we look at, it's one of the key management indicators, we monitor how many of our sensors are making it out to 10 days, and we've set a pretty high bar for how we want our system to work. And while we could have launched a longer lasting product, we wouldn't have hit the percentages with the configuration that we have. And so we said, OK, 10 days is enough. Our patient base is fine with 10 days as long as we deliver on the 10 days that we promise. And we'll get into longer live trials literally as soon as we're done with these and hopefully move it over. Because that does cost us a lot less and give us more pricing flexibility over time for the various groups. But for now we'll go 10 days, mainly, so we have more reliability. That's the biggest reason.
Stacey Simms 18:22
I have a few more G7 questions, but they're about pricing and accessibility.
Kevin Sayer 18:26
Well, I, you know what I can, I can't answer most of them...
Stacey Simms 18:28
Kevin Sayer 18:29
...because we can't really go address pricing until it's approved.
Stacey Simms 18:32
Kevin Sayer 18:33
And we have as we put our G6 contracts together over the past couple of years, done so in anticipation of a G7 product to whereby, for example, for Medicare, it's a fixed charge per month. And for many of our insurance contracts, it's resembling more that type of business arrangement, we're hopeful that we can transition to G7 very quickly. But we will have to go to all your payers and get G7 covered before they'll pay for it. We're hopeful that'll be a quick process. But in the meantime, G6 is a great product and people will be able to use it. I can't give you a timeframe as to how long that'll take, we'll have to go to CMS, we'll have to go to all the Medicaid groups as well. What we're trying to avoid, and let me repeat what I don't want to deal with, is one of the things I dealt with with the G6 for a long time, we didn't have enough inventory of production capacity to get it to every group. So the Medicare population was stuck with G5 for quite some time. Those emails were not good. We want to make sure it's equal access when we can get it in the channel for everybody. And we're trying to build that type of capacity.
Stacey Simms 19:34
A couple of "what-if?" questions, just kind of looking down the road. JDRF recently announced that they are looking for and this is the very beginning. So as you listen or as you're watching, this is not in the works yet, this is a call for research, that they are looking for a CGM that could also measure ketones, and I haven't seen any companies step up yet publicly to say yes, we're working on that, we'd like to be part of that. Is that anything that Dexcom is thinking of doing?
Kevin Sayer 20:02
We've explored this for quite some time long before the JDRF initiative. And the question I keep asking, is continuous ketone measurement important? We know that for the pediatric world, that if you measure ketones continuously, you might predict dangerous DKA moment before it happens. But at what cost to the system? And is there a cost benefit associated with this? So we're setting all those things. We're in the learning phases, we think we have a platform that can do that. But we've got to decide do you sacrifice glucose accuracy? If you throw a ketone sensor on there? There's a lot of answers we don't have yet. But we're in the early phases. And we've talked with JDRF and others about it, is there a better way to measure ketones that might be easier and less expensive? I don't know. We've looked at several other analytes to go with our system over time. And I think in the future, that'll be something but that's not coming from us for at least three years, if not longer.
Stacey Simms 20:56
Got it. You've looked at other...
Kevin Sayer 20:58
Stacey Simms 20:59
Analytes, tell me about what else has been looked at just for, you know.
Kevin Sayer 21:03
Well, I won't go into all of them. I certainly look at lactate from a stress level. And for physical fitness, for example, there are a lot of athletes who'd like us to produce a lactate sensor to whereby they can measure the progress of their physical fitness. There's also a use for lactate in the hospital environment with we think with respect to predicting sepsis over time, but those are you know, that's one of them. And we've looked at a few others and failed, I won't go into all those.
Stacey Simms 21:31
Kevin Sayer 21:31
We've looked at some that may be promising. What we find from time to time is yeah, what we'd love to measure but we can't is insulin on our wire. If there are any way we could measure insulin in addition to glucose, wouldn't that be awesome? We know exactly how much insulin you have on board. And we know exactly well, we, we've not been successful at that one. That would require different technology than what we have. So we look at all of them. And over time, we think we'll have some good stuff there. But not for a while.
Stacey Simms 22:00
Um, you know, you mentioned hospitalizations. And last year we talked about the CGM program in hospitals. Forgive me I, there were so many studies at ADA and ATTD, I don't know if this was presented. But let me ask a general, how is it going? Are hospitals adopting and adapting to using a CGM?
Kevin Sayer 22:16
They are adopting and adapting is harder than adopting.
Stacey Simms 22:19
Kevin Sayer 22:20
Because, you know, this is a device that was designed for your listeners. And for you. It wasn't a device that was designed to be used in a hospital room. With all of the cybersecurity and connectivity issues of a hospital, where do we send the information? How do we get it there? And so we've got to solve the workflow issue to make this meaningful in the hospital environment over time. What we have learned is our technology is more than good enough to go there. And that the places particularly where you have an endocrinologist very heavily involved in treating the diabetes patients in the hospital rather than a cardiologist or somebody else, when there's an endocrinologist involved, we can go very quickly, they can learn. Some of the hospitals would take an approach, let's put this on everybody. Others would only take an approach, let's put this on severe cases. So there have been different protocols used. But by and large, the response to CGM in the hospital has been very, very good. And we think it is a great market for us over time, we've got to work on the proper configuration for workflow. I mean, one of the best examples, how do you get the data to the medical record? Because everything in the hospital goes to the medical record. How do we make that seamless? We haven't figured that out yet. And that'd be important for all of our users even outside the hospital. Imagine how much easier would be to go to your doctor and have your Dexcom data already sitting in the medical record when you get there. We're not there yet. But we're having a lot of good discussions on that front.
Stacey Simms 23:41
Got it. One of the topics that's been kind of in the community recently, and I don't think it's so much Dexcom. But I want to ask you, anyway, is this issue of and you mentioned, athletes who want to measure certain things, of people without diabetes, using Flash glucose monitoring, or continuous glucose monitoring. I'm curious is that a market that Dexcom is looking to pursue? I mean, the G7 is smaller, it's lighter. And you know that I'm asking this because we've talked many times before. People who use insulin are very much afraid of not being able to afford, being left behind if many, many, many people who may not use it in the same way, start adopting these products.
Kevin Sayer 24:19
Let me address that in a couple of steps. Let's talk about the use case first. There are people, a lot of people using Dexcom, who do not have diabetes, as a health and wellness tool. And there are a number of apps that are being developed that require glucose information to level set your nutrition. Now, possibly Type Two diabetes or prediabetes, but there are groups and some groups with some very interesting ideas as to how to change your diet based on glucose data to make you healthier. We were used many years ago on The Biggest Loser with every patient that came in the door and one of the production people, I don't remember which one, might have even been the physician, came to me and said, "You need to get out of the diabetes business. You can make a lot more money in weight loss." Well, we're not getting out of the diabetes business, that's where we are and where we stay. One of the things we've contemplated with G7 is the fact that we're going to go to more people. And we're going to go to more people than just the Type One population. We plan on having capacity to build over 200 million sensors, before the end of 2023. 200 million sensors is gonna be more than enough for the intensive insulin using community. And as far as cost, well cost comes down if we can sell that much in volume. Now,
Stacey Simms 25:29
Kevin Sayer 25:29
I would also argue...
Stacey Simms 25:30
You're in the American healthcare system, Kevin. You know this is not a market-based device, we don't...
Kevin Sayer 25:36
I'm aware, I'm aware of that.
Stacey Simms 25:38
I'll let you finish, I'm sorry.
Kevin Sayer 25:39
Let me keep going. At the end of the day, as you look at what somebody pays for taking care of themselves with delivering insulin and powering the insulin pump, that's a very complex task that requires a lot of customer service and support. If somebody is only losing weight, that's a different problem we're trying to solve, or if somebody is trying to titrate a Type Two drug, that's a different problem. I think we can find a way to make everybody happy. I don't think we're gonna disappoint anybody. And we planned this company and built this company to make sure that we have capacity to do all this, it's, you know. It's, one would look at me, I mean, we're gonna spend over a billion dollars on these factories over the next two, three years here. This is not a simple endeavor, it is a large investment. And this technology first goes to the community that we serve, now worldwide. We have to expand worldwide, but get it to the group in the US as well. After that, we'll go the other places, but we're going to have more than enough capacity to do that. In fact, one might question if I'm insane, or we're insane to create so much capacity and the 200 million, quite candidly, the wave design, the G7 lines, if we need to sample at a factory, we can do it very quickly. So this is a, this is a long term play for us. We believe this technology be beneficial to a number of people. And so if we can get, if we can get all these sensors out there and all these uses, I think it'll benefit your audience more than it'll detract from.
Stacey Simms 27:00
I know we're going to run out of time. I've got two more questions. You've mentioned,
Kevin Sayer 27:03
You got them, I'll give you time for two questions. Let's finish.
Stacey Simms 27:06
Kevin Sayer 27:07
Finish the way you want.
Stacey Simms 27:09
You mentioned already, lots of different apps are being developed, not all diabetes. You know, a couple years ago, Dexcom announced the availability of the API, you know, developers can get data through third party apps. I'm curious, is there anything going on maybe behind the scenes? Or are you doing anything further to kind of foster more innovation in the early stage, like the development of other companies? Or is that a thing of the past?
Kevin Sayer 27:31
No, I'll give you two things that we're doing. Number one, we have a live API use where you can have a live display of the data. That's on file with the agency right now, it'll eventually get approved. So you'll be able to run the Dexcom app, data'll go to the cloud, comes straight down to another one. I think that is a very good use of the technology and it shows our willingness to work with others. So that is a good use. One of the other things we have coming, then we'll see where it goes. Our intended use case in the beginning was with major healthcare systems. But we have another app that we've shown pictures of, it's an app inside an app. So let's say for example, you go to Scripts here in San Diego, I'll pick Scripts, and Scripts has their own healthcare app. And they also want to be the center of your diabetes care, particularly for Type Two diabetes, and they might have you wearing a sensor for something other than isulin delivery. We've developed an app that can reside inside another app, to whereby you can have your Scripts experience, but you can touch an icon and you go to a Dexcom experience. And it, it's an app that resides inside the app and for security, we're able to keep others out. That app inside the app concept is nothing we've done to commit to others, to give them an opportunity to use Dexcom technology in a different way. And yet preserving create their own experiences. We're very cognizant of the fact that we can't solve every problem, and there might be better experiences. And we can create. Okay, got time for one more.
Stacey Simms 28:54
All right, last question. And it's more of a request. But the question is when you, and this is from a couple of listeners, when you start rolling out the G7, any consideration for including and this may be an insurance question too, one extra sensor a year? So three in a month.
Kevin Sayer 29:10
What a wonderful question. And let me tell you something, we spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing sensor failure and returns and those types of things. We have run models that say if we give everybody, if we just gave everybody x more sensors a year, we could avoid all the phone calls and all of the issues and all that stuff. We analyze this warranty policy all the time. And I think what you'll see with G7, we'll have better tools. My hope someday just for your users, I would love to just diagnose this in the app in general, to whereby if your sensor fails, we know when we say your sensor failed, tap on this icon to get a new one. The flip side of that is we have a business to run and we can't do all free centers. So if it comes to the time, if you buy 12 months for the sensors, and pay for 12 months for the sensors, let's make sure you get 12 months worth of use. And if that means we ship you a free one because one failed, that's fine. But we're still, you know, we found one patient in another country, I won't say which one, they got 48 free sensors and purchased all of three, because they spent all this time. Those are the far exceptions from the rule, people will just want care. And so we are doing everything we can to come up with better policies to make it easier for you. Because quite honestly, those phone calls cost us way more money and they cause you guys frustration, we are going to make this better over time. That's a promise I can make. And let's talk about it in a future conversation and I'll tell you some of the things we've done.
Stacey Simms 30:35
All right, we'll hold up for a baker's dozen one of these days. But Kevin, thank you so much. You're always very accessible...
Kevin Sayer 30:41
Stacey Simms 30:41
...and I really do appreciate your time.
You're listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 30:54
Lots of more information at Diabetes-connections.com. If you haven't seen it yet, a while back Dexcom sent me what they call a sizzle reel of their G7, what it looks like. So I'll put that video in the show notes as well. We have a YouTube channel. I don't put a lot of extra stuff there. But things like that Dexcom video, and the "In the News," you can watch it if you'd prefer, I always put that on YouTube. And all these episodes are there as well, although they're mostly just the audio, but a lot of people listen, watch, they listen that way on YouTube. So that'll be linked up in the show notes. And I realized I haven't mentioned it on the show yet. But you know, this time of year getting your Dexcom or getting any gear to stick can be difficult, lots of wet and sweat in the summer. And I've created a guide, seven top tips to get your diabetes gear to stick in the hot summer. Over the years, we've tried so many things. Benny has had a pump since he was two. He's had a Dexcom since he was nine. So a lot of, you know, trial and error. And this guide is available, absolutely free. So I will put a link in the show notes. If you get the newsletter, you may have already seen it. But just in case you don't. And the show notes are always at Diabetes-connections.com. Every episode has its own homepage with a transcription, started that in 2020 and we are working our way back. If you're listening on a podcast app, there are shownotes there, but in case you have problems with links or whatever, you can always go to the episode homepage.
And as I mentioned, Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. It is hard to remember what things were like before we started using the Dexcom. I just said Benny was nine, right? But he had diabetes for seven years before we started using it. And I guess I haven't really forgotten what that was like. But it's just so different now. When he was a toddler, we were doing something like 10 finger sticks a day. And even when he got older, we still did at least six to eight every day, more when he wasn't feeling well or when something was off. But with each iteration of Dexcom, we have done fewer and fewer sticks. The latest generation the Dexcom G6 eliminates finger sticks for calibration and diabetes treatment decisions. Just thinking about Benny's little worn out fingertips makes me so glad that Dexcom has helped us come so far. It's an incredible tool. And Benny's fingertips are healthy and smooth, which I never thought would happen when he was in preschool. If your glucose alerts and readings from the G6 do not match symptoms or expectations, use a blood glucose meter to make diabetes treatment decisions. Learn more, go to Diabetes-connections.com and click on the Dexcom logo.
As I mentioned at the top of the show, I am at Friends for Life right now as you're listening. If you're listening as this goes live, on the day that it goes out there, I'm traveling to Friends for Life, and I'll be here for the week. If you're not familiar, this is the largest family diabetes conference in the country. It takes place every July in beautiful Orlando, it's so hot, but it's a great time, it's on the Disney World property. I don't usually go to the parks if my kids aren't coming. They're not coming with me this year, so I doubt I will be going into a Disney park. But it's a fabulous conference. And I just want to let you know, I'm doing a new presentation. I'm working up some new stuff. I'm very excited about it. And this one is called "Reframe your Diabetes Parent Brain." And I gotta tell you, I am really sick and tired of seeing people berate themselves and talk about mom fail and tell themselves how terrible they are as parents. So this is going to be a session where we talk about the mistakes we've made. But then I want to help people reframe them so that they see what they've learned. You know, my whole philosophy is you mess up and you learn. And that's what this is all about. So I'm really excited to try it out. Will it go over well? I don't know. You know, I think so many diabetes parents are so wrapped up in perfect now that they feel like if they go above 120 or 150 that they failed their children. So, gosh, I feel really passionate about it. And we're going to try that. And then for the fall, I've been getting a lot of questions about sending kids to camp, and I've gotten more and more of these over the years. You know, how do I send my Type One kid to regular sleepaway camp. So I'm working on a presentation about that because fall, August, September, is when a lot of people sign their kids up for next summer. So as you listen, if you're affiliated with a group that does meetups or zoom calls, or in-person conferences, let me know. I would love to speak to you and start these dialogues and help you really help your kids thrive with Type One. We're not done. We're far from done, right? Benny's 16. But you know, he's a confident and happy kid. So knock wood. Where's all my wood to knock? I say all the superstitious stuff, right? I mean, I don't kid, you know how superstitious I am. But I really hope that I can help other parents. You know, the idea here is that you don't worry. The idea here is that you do it anyway.
All right. Thank you so much for joining me. Thank you, as always to my editor, John Bukenas from Audio Editing Solutions. I will see you back here in a couple days for the "In the News" episode, but again, no long format episode, the following week. Alright, I'm Stacey Simms. Until then, be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged.
We are very excited to catch up with the folks from Beta Bionics! Their fully automated bionic pancreas is called the iLet. They are getting closer to submitting to the US FDA and were able to give us an update on some of the most anticipated features.
Kate Farnsworth is a consultant for Beta Bionics currently acting as Digital Marketing and Communications Manager. She walks us through what makes the iLet a very different insulin pump, including: a system that only needs the user's weight (no basal rates or carb ratios), software that will learn from the user and make adjustments, how the system charges, waterproof status and much more. All dependent on FDA approval.
Kate's daughter was diagnosed at age 8 and we first spoke in July of 2015 about Nightscout.
Past episode with Beta Bionics:
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Episode Transcription below
Stacey Simms 0:00
Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario health manage your blood glucose levels increase your possibilities by Gvoke Hypopen the first premixed auto injector for very low blood sugar and by Dexcom take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with Dexcom.
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
This week, catching up with Beta Bionics . Their fully automated bionic pancreas, called the iLet has some new features not available in existing devices. And that's helped to ease the burden of diabetes in new ways.
Kate Farnsworth 0:33
Working for companies like Beta Bionics give us the opportunity to reach a much wider group of people and really gives us the opportunity because we are a public benefit company to try and engage those people that aren't being engaged currently with the tools that are available.
Stacey Simms 1:02
That's Kate Farnsworth a well known name from the DIY community. Now with Beta Bionics . She'll give us the latest news on the iLet’s development and share some personal stories of her family's journey with type one.
Also this week, a big anniversary for the show, as well as for some of our listeners. This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
Welcome to another week of the show, always so glad to have you on, we aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin, guys, it has been six years of Diabetes Connections this month, work six years I started in June of 2015. It kind of snuck up on me to be honest with you. I had started the show in May of 2015, actually, but it was just audio that I put on my blog. We didn't get accepted into Apple podcasts and all the rest until June. So that's where I'm marking it from. I had been working on it for months and months. And I kind of wish I had started earlier. But hey, I'm thrilled with how it's gone. Almost 400 episodes now, so many of you wonderful listeners who I hear from all the time. Thank you so much for sticking with me. And if you could just do me a favor, the best thing you could do, I'm not doing much to celebrate this anniversary, I'm not doing a big thing on social or anything like that. But if you could do me a favor, just share the show, share this episode, share whatever episode you like, or just share a link to Diabetes connections.com on your social media, you can put it on your own timeline. Better yet share it in the diabetes Facebook group. It really does help get the word out. You can leave a review that's always fun, but sharing the show itself or telling somebody about showing them even to this day, how to listen to a podcast really goes a long way. So will we be here for another six years? I don't know, man. I hope so. I'm not slowing down. I'm really excited about where we're going. And I love talking to people like my guest this week.
Alright, let's get into it. My guest is Kate Farnsworth. She's a consultant for Beta Bionics currently acting as Digital Marketing and Communications Manager. Many of you know Kate from the DIY community. Her daughter was diagnosed at age eight, and we actually first spoke she was on the podcast in July of 2015. Just after we got started, we talk then about Nightscout she helped so many people get watchfaces set up back in the day among so many other things that she did. Now she helps run the Facebook loop to group with 10s of 1000s of members. Now the iLet, as many of you know has been one of the most heavily watched and anticipated devices in the diabetes space. First human testing was done in 2008. At Damiano the company founder has kept everybody up to speed over the years he has been very public showing the progress in presentations at conferences, and he's been on the show a couple of times himself, I will pick up those older episodes. for newer listeners. The iLet is meant to be a dual chambered pump. That means it will hold and infuse insulin and glucagon to help achieve better time in range.
Just so we're all clear. Putting glucagon into your body isn't like eating sugar or infusing quick acting sugar like glucose or dextrose. Very simply put, injecting glucagon or infusing glucagon stimulates the liver to convert its stored glycogen into glucose which it can then release into the body. The eyelid is being designed with two cartridges and two infusion sets one each for the insulin and glucagon. But the plan right now is to move forward with just the insulin so just one chamber like a quote regular insulin pump for now. I know that was a lot but after Kate and I finished the interview, we realized that a quick description like that and some information about glucagon because I still explain it I still have a lot of people who are newer in the community who don't quite understand. So I really hope that that helped.
Okay, a lot more in just a moment but first diabetes These connections is brought to you by Dario health. And we first noticed Dario a couple of years ago at a conference, and Benny thought being able to turn your smartphone into a meter was pretty amazing. I'm excited to tell you that Dario offers even more now, the Dario diabetes success plan gives you all the supplies and support you need to succeed, you'll get a glucometer that fits in your pocket unlimited test strips and lancets delivered to your door and a mobile app with a complete view of your data. The plan is tailored for you with coaching when and how you need it. And personalized reports based on your activity. Find out more, go to my dario.com forward slash Diabetes Connections.
Kate, thanks, thank you so much for joining me, Boy, am I excited to talk to you.
I'm so happy to be here. Before we jump in, my listeners know that I promised this year that in 2021, I was gonna be very heavy on technology. There's so much in front of the FDA, there's so much going into pivotal trials and heading to the FDA that I thought it would be so easy to do all of these interviews. But I realized as we got further along that the very timing of all of this makes it very difficult for the companies to actually come on and share a lot of information because you are limited in what you can say and understandably so. So before we even get started. I know you have a disclaimer that you're probably going to bring out a couple of times during the interview. But why don't you go ahead and say that now.
Kate Farnsworth 6:21
Thanks, Stacey. So the iLet bionic pancreas is an investigational device and it's limited by federal or United States law to investigational use is not available for sale
Stacey Simms 6:34
as we go forward. And as you listen, I should also let you know that I've given Kate the opportunity as I did when I talked to Howard look from tide pool or you know anybody else who is in this phase of their device or technology, the opportunity to kind of let me know when I've crossed the line. So I may ask a question that you can't answer, Kate. But um, I think we all we kind of understand where we are. So I appreciate that. All right. Having said that, give us the lay of the land, if you can, where is the iLet? In terms of development, let's go high level as far as we can right now.
Kate Farnsworth 7:07
Okay, so Beta Bionics is the company behind the iLet. And we're really different company because we're a certified B Corporation and the public benefit corporation. And that means our company is measured by an independent resource based on how our company's operations and business model impacts our workers, our community, our environment and our customers from our supply chain and input materials to our charitable giving an employee benefits. B Corp certification proves our business meet the highest standards of verified performance. For Beta Bionics . That means the people with diabetes and their loved ones have a seat at the table in our decision making. In that context that we're working to bring the commercial version of the iLet to market. There is currently a pivotal clinical trial testing the eyelid and people living with type 1 diabetes ages six enough. This trial is large and involves 17 different clinical trials sites across the United States. results from this clinical trial will potentially support our application to the FDA for regulatory clearance of the insulin configuration of the device in that population. Once the FDA application is filed, FDA review of 510 k market applications typically take about six months, which includes 90 days of FDA review time and time for response to questions that may come up during the review.
Stacey Simms 8:39
My understanding is that the iLet is a device it's we're talking about an insulin pump here. And I guess what I would call an artificial pancreas or hybrid closed loop system, where it communicates with a CGM to help you stay in a certain range. But the island has always been talked about as needing minimal input. In other words, last time I talked to Ed he was talking about you put your weight in. And that's really the only information it needs from the user to get started. Is all of that still the case? Is that what's in these pivotal trials?
Kate Farnsworth 9:09
Yeah, so that was designed to be initialized by weight alone. It doesn't require users to set curry shows or basal rates for instance, insulin sensitivity factors, the system uses your weight as a starting point and then learns quickly what your unique responses are based on CGM values that receives every five minutes. So with that in mind, we hope that once the FDA clears it, the iLet can be an automated insulin delivery device that requires very few inputs from healthcare providers and people with diabetes or caregivers. For us this solution isn't just about the feature is it's about the benefit that it could potentially give people reduced cognitive and emotional burden. You might recall Adam Brown has talked about the 42 factors that impact blood glucose at Ada conference and in his book bright spots and landmine, those of us in the community can definitely relate based on our own experiences. There are a number of diverse factors that pay people with diabetes on a whim, combine that juggling act with up to 180 diabetes related decisions that people with diabetes or their caregivers make each day. And we really do have a cognitive and emotional workload that those living without diabetes don't face. So our hope is that the iLet is cleared may reduce that burden, since it's offering a solution to type 1 diabetes management without the same numerical input as traditional employment therapy.
Stacey Simms 10:43
Can you speak to the idea of just entering weight and like announcing meals, I mean, I think for those of us my son's used an insulin pump since he was two. So we're coming up on, we're coming up on almost 15 years of using an insulin pump. And the idea of interacting with it less is a little bit mind boggling. You're a mom of a person with type one, you have a child with Type One Diabetes, can you just speak to that idea? You've already talked about the burden being lifted a little bit, but is it difficult for people to kind of wrap their brains around and the reaction of when it does work as well as
Kate Farnsworth 11:16
we assume I can't speak about the clinical trial right now or the results that we're getting. But what I can tell you as a mom of a child with diabetes, is that the cognitive and emotional burden that she feels just having to constantly worry about her diabetes is immense. And I think that we even as parents don't fully understand, you know, how much our kids have to think about diabetes, how much it impacts every moment of every day, and interacting with friends or going out or making decisions on whether or not they're going to sleep over at a friend's. And if there was a device that could potentially relieve some of that burden to me, you know, that's huge, that would be amazing for my daughter. So with the eyelid, when you're entering a meal, you would select whether the meal is the usual amount of carbs for you more or less, it's designed not to require you to count the actual number of cartons over time, the system's designed to learn what that means to you personally. So for my daughter, for example, might have a totally different usual meal than your son. So the system is designed to learn and adapt to each individual user. While there's, you know, that's the practical application. There are other considerations for wide the eyelid has been designed that way. There are 1000s of Americans who don't have access to an endocrinologist, we want him to engage them, we want to meet them where they are and help them get closer to their diabetes goals. I feel passionately about improving the lives of people living with diabetes and easing the burden they live with every day. And research has documented racial and ethnic disparities in diabetes treatments and outcomes. Technology uptake, for example, is much higher for white youth than black or Hispanic youth. As a public benefit corporation. Our goal is to get our solutions to as many people as possible. So we're actively exploring how we can reach the underserved populations and hope to be able to provide all people with diabetes, the same level of care,
Stacey Simms 13:33
I want to make a note and come back to that because there's been such a wonderful, I don't know how to say it, I want to make a note and come back to that. Because years ago, we talked about the DIY community, how it was reaching so few people, it was such a great benefit, but really not for a lot of people. And so many of you are passionate and wanted to bring this commercial product out. And now it's being done. So I'm gonna I want to follow up on that in just a little bit if I could, but let's continue to kind of talk about where we are, thank you. But the idea of no carb counting, to me, would be such a relief, because one of the shocking things that happened in my brain was within the first year of Benny being diagnosed, I think he was too he wasn't eating as much food as he does now at 16. But we realized that carb counting was so inexact and such guesswork, because you could try to be as exact as possible at home. But then you would go to a restaurant, and you really had no idea. And as you listen, my husband owned and operated a restaurant for many years. So you can tell somebody, this dish has this many carbs in it. But first of all, restaurants put so much more butter and fat, and seasonings and things in your food because that's what makes it taste so delicious at the restaurant, which affects how it breaks down in your body. But also, one person can make it to the next day even at a fast food restaurant, it's not going to be exactly the same. So what was the thinking behind it? Is it really just to make it easier on people or did the researchers and the founders here also kind of think that carb counting really isn't that exact
Right back to Kate answering that question, but first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Gvoke Hypopen and you know low blood sugar feels horrible. You can get shaky and sweaty or even feel like you're gonna pass out. There are lots of symptoms and they can't be different for everyone. I'm so glad we have a different option to treat very low blood sugar Gvoke Hypopen. It's the first auto injector to treat very low blood sugar. Gvoke Hypopen is pre mixed and ready to go with no visible needle before Gvoke people needed to go through a lot of steps to get glucagon treatments ready to be used. This made emergency situations even more challenging and stressful. This is so much better. I am grateful we have it on hand, find out more go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Gvoke logo. gvoke shouldn't be used in patients with pheochromocytoma or insulinoma. Visit Gvoke glucagon.com slash risk. Now back to Kate answering my question about the inexact science of counting carbs.
Kate Farnsworth 16:03
Yeah, carb counting is not very accurate. People are notoriously bad at carb counting, my daughter might be looking at her meal and see 15 carbs, another person with diabetes might count those curves completely differently, it's really helpful to be able to look at your plate and say, you know, this is usual for me, or this is more for me, this breakfast is way more than I would typically eat. So I'm gonna let the system know about that. Rather than counting the exact numbers in that restaurant meal.
Stacey Simms 16:43
I could talk about that for an hour. That to me is so revolutionary Benny the other day, we got these big cookies, which is you know, a real tree. We don't eat a ton of junk food, but we don't eat super low carb either. But there were these giant chocolate chip cookies. And he was higher than usual later. And I just asked him, I'm like, Hey, I'm just curious, because I don't look at everything he eats or talked about every bolus anymore. So what did you think those cookies were? And he said, Oh, I think it was I think I put in 35. I was like, dude, those were like, 65. Easy, right? And he was what I did. He's had diabetes for 14 years. Right? It doesn't mean he's a bad person. He just didn't. He just took a guess.
Kate Farnsworth 17:19
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. We have the same with my daughter. I don't manage her diabetes, you know, as actively as I used to when she was little, but occasionally I'll ask her, you know, how many carbs Did you think were in that, and then we'll compare it to the package. One really big example that we have, we have those flat pretzels, and they're in a big container. And she'll just pour herself a bowl. And, you know, she guesses on how many carbs are in that bowl. But one time we actually put it on the scale and calculated and she was 45 carbs consistently, because she had been doing this for some time. And I know the same thing happens with cereal, for example, once we move past that carrying a scale with us phase, our eyeballs are the judges and they're not very good. So yeah,
Stacey Simms 18:10
I think some people listening might be saying, Well, why don't you carry scales with you anymore? What kind of parents are you, but I got to say I'm not into adding any more diabetes burden, then we need to so I'm thrilled with letting technology replaced my brain on this, you know, control IQ has done a wonderful job for us and really helping and you know, what you're talking about is only going to help as well. So the big question with the iLet has always been about the dual chambered pump. This was a pump that years ago was talked about and I know you're still working toward a dual chambered pump with insulin and with glucagon in it, but my understanding is that what we're talking about today, what the pivotal trials are all about is insulin only. Can you talk a little bit, just kind of give the listeners an update on what we're talking about in terms of the one chambered pump and what you're working toward, with the dual chamber pump.
Kate Farnsworth 19:00
So the iLet’s designed with two chambers, one for an insulin cartridge and the other for our glucagon cartridge. Her initial device after an FDA clearance will have the insulin chamber available to users while the glucagon chamber will not be usable. Once the dual hormone configuration has been also cleared through the FDA through a subsequent 510 k application. The glucagon chamber will also be made available to users. Our hope is that it would be the same device just the second chamber would then become available.
Stacey Simms 19:34
I understand you may not be able to answer this. But if and when it becomes dual chamber pump. The hardware as you say would be the same. Is it just a question of software updates or is that looking too far in the future?
Kate Farnsworth 19:47
It is my understanding that it will be a software update. But we definitely are getting ahead of ourselves there. We have to go through the whole FDA and 510 k application for that company.
Stacey Simms 20:00
Got it. Okay. I'll be I'll tread lightly on Be careful on that. Of course, a couple of weeks ago, I talked to the folks at ziggo log, which I'm still not sure I'm saying correctly, which is the glucagon that I believe you all are working with.
Unknown Speaker 20:19
Is that still the case?
Kate Farnsworth 20:20
Yes. Yes. So we are working with Zealand to provide the glucagon that will be used in the clinical trial for the by hormonal device. And they recently got approval for adaptive glucagon for the treatment of severe hypoglycemia. And they're marketing it under the brand name Tagalog. I hope I am saying that.
Unknown Speaker 20:42
I think we're good.
Stacey Simms 20:43
I guess my only question on that, because I know it's a separate company. But it was so many years that we were waiting not just for the eyelid, but we were waiting for that shelf stable glucagon, so we didn't have to emergencies or for low treatment, reconstitute or kind of open that red box or that orange emergency box. So it was a big relief in many ways when the different types of shelf stable glue gun were approved. I mean, there's three options. Now, I know you can't speak in detail about a lot of this. But I got a question from a listener about how this would work. And the question wasn't so much about the mechanisms or the software. I know that's proprietary. But the question was, you know, it's always risky to use glucagon too much, right? It's also why we don't want to have too many lows in a row that your liver has to help out with because you can deplete the glucagon supply. And I'm curious, this listener wants to know, is there any danger of depleting the body's own sources if you're always giving it from an external glucagon, injection or infusion?
Kate Farnsworth 21:49
So we're deeply aware of the risks of severe hypoglycemia until we know more from a pivotal trial, it would be best at that question to an MD with expertise in glucagon storage and depletion. But what I can tell you is that we're partnering with seeland to provide the glucagon that will be used in the clinical trial for our bio hormonal device. As you know, they recently got approval for his ecolog. And we plan to use that same shelf stable ready to use quizzes on with the island in our bio hormonal pivotal trials. It's really important to note though, that the amount of glucagon that will be dispensed in the iLet will be substantially lower than the amount dispensed in the cycle of injection or prefilled pen. That's because the ladders for severe or hypo rescue and the amount the iLet would dispense is intended to be hypoglycemia prevention. So that iLet is designed to micro dose very small amounts of glucagon as needed based on the person with diabetes CGM readings and the speed of their glucose decline. So it's really important for people to know that they wouldn't be getting a rescue dose of glucagon in that scenario. Of course, the use of Desa glucagon with the iLet will need additional FDA approval for Depo glucagon. And the iLet will also need FDA clearance for dispensing deathly glucagon.
Stacey Simms 23:12
I mentioned earlier that the system and you mentioned this as well, is working with a CGM. And my understanding is that this is Dexcom g six.
Kate Farnsworth 23:21
That's correct. The eyelid is designed to work with the Dexcom CGM, but we're open to working with other CGM manufacturers in the future. Because we understand that choice is really important to people living with diabetes.
Stacey Simms 23:36
That's great. Dexcom g seven is moving forward. I assume that as that moves forward, this iLet will move forward with it.
Kate Farnsworth 23:45
I would think that's a fairly safe assumption. Okay, good answer. Can you tell me
Stacey Simms 23:50
any details? Again? I feel like I'm fishing here. But can I can you tell me any details about the pump itself? You know, we've got Omni pod, which has the remote PDM that is used with it. We have Tandem, which has buttons on the pump, and they're hoping to get bolus by phone pretty soon. Is the eyelid buttons on the pump? Is it a phone control? Anything you can tell me about that?
Kate Farnsworth 24:13
Yeah, so everything currently is designed to be done from the iLet itself. It has a touchscreen interface. And the infusion says at launch will be similar to the inside. So people are familiar with john caustic and our team are working on some of the potential mobile solutions for the iLet’s. And we hope to have more information about those as we get closer to launch.
Stacey Simms 24:38
I know that you have had a lot of input from the community because I've seen the the posts that you will have put out there asking for help from the community in terms of I guess what is called human factors and things like that. Can you share a little bit about anything that you've learned just anecdotally about what people like and don't like about using an insulin pump, or what you could any kind of feedback that you got along The way that might be of interest.
Kate Farnsworth 25:01
Unfortunately, I can't share that information. I'm sorry. Yeah, I can talk a little bit about the fact that we have a lot of preclinical data that's available on our website. So if anybody is interested in looking at bat, it's Beta Bionics calm, and I can't comment on the results of our pivotal trial as it's still in progress. We do hope to have those results later this year and look forward to sharing them. Our goal backed by appropriate research, and continuously advancing technology is to create a solution that people with diabetes don't have to spend so much time micromanaging decisions that impact their condition, and that they can spend more time focusing on other things in their lives.
Stacey Simms 25:51
This is another question from a listener. And this is about changing the reservoirs out and I this would be when it is dual chambered. So do you have to change them together? Or can you change out the one that is empty? And I'll add to that, again, knowing I don't know if you can answer that, you know, right now, we are all told to change out an insulin cartridge within three days, do you have to change the glucagon in a period of time as well.
Kate Farnsworth 26:16
So as designed the insulin cartridge use that the iLet can be changed actually independently of the infusion set. So you can change your insulin cartridge, but not your infusion set. And we intend to have prefilled cartridges and user filled cartridges available if FDA clear, as for the glucagon, that's one of the things we hope to uncover during the by hormonal pivotal trial is the duration that people can leave the Deathly the carton cartridge in the device, and how often it needs to be changed.
Stacey Simms 26:52
You I didn't ask about infusion sets, and I'm not a big fan of any of them on the market. I think that's the weak link of pumping. I'm not alone in that assessment. Two questions there. So when it is dual chamber, do you anticipate two infusion lines and two infusion sets? I assume you're not mixing these two together? Right?
Kate Farnsworth 27:13
Yes, we anticipate using two inpatients.
Stacey Simms 27:16
And then the other question is, can you share what you're using is? Is there a new one coming from Beta Bionics or are you planning to use one that's already on the market?
Kate Farnsworth 27:24
For our pivotal trials, we're using ones that are very similar to in test that are currently available for no medical. And that is what we plan to use that launch.
Stacey Simms 27:38
Couple other just kind of life style questions, I guess about the pump? How is it charged? Is it a battery is it is an external? How do you charge the pump.
Kate Farnsworth 27:48
So the iLets designed for inductive charging like modern mobile phones, so no cords or cables are required to charge it. The batteries designed to typically last about five days on a single charge and a full charge takes about two hours.
Stacey Simms 28:04
So wait, I think that went by too quickly for my brain. Okay, you mean like lay it on a charger? You don't plug it in? Correct? Do I have to get a special charger? Or can you use anything? Like you said a cell phone charger? I mean, no, I don't use one of those, which is why you're hear me stammering around I'm thinking like, do I get one on Amazon? Do you buy that this is easy. These are easily available for regular people.
Kate Farnsworth 28:25
Our hope is to ship you a charger with the device, but that it would also work with another charger of similar design that you might have around your house. Okay,
Stacey Simms 28:38
and is I'm probably said it's so old fashioned to everybody listening. But you know, what are you gonna do? And talk a little bit about the pump? Is it waterproof? Can it get wet? It is designed to be waterproof. Yes. So wait, now I have to ask. So like I can you can swim with it. It's not just waterproof to a certain amount.
Kate Farnsworth 28:57
So you remember those animals bubbling water displays that they used to have when they had their pumps floating in the water. So their devices were certified the same level that the iLet, we hope that the iLet will be certified to as well.
Stacey Simms 29:15
Very cool. Anybody have those old animist displays? You guys could grab those. I think I was at a display once they had fish swimming in the water once.
Kate Farnsworth 29:22
Yeah, exactly. I that's how it was explained to me by one of our engineers was the old venomous, complex the same way and they had the bubbler with the fish in it.
Stacey Simms 29:34
I think I have a photo because you know, I used to work with animals. And I'm pretty sure I spoke at an event where they had these centerpieces at a table and it was a fish tank and the pumps were ended. I'll have to search that up. And that's great. Let me ask you. I'm sure that my listeners will have many more questions about the eyelet. And hopefully we can speak again we'll get more information as it moves forward. But you and I have known each other for a long time in the community as fellow diabetes parents. Do you mind As a couple of questions about how you're doing and your daughter was diagnosed when she was what, eight, nine years old?
Kate Farnsworth 30:05
That's a incident. He was diagnosed when she was eight. And she just turned 18. Wow, she is now an adult. Oh, my
Stacey Simms 30:13
gosh, how is she doing? I mean, we've already talked about her a little bit, but it sounds like me, you have backed off quite a bit of the diabetes parenting, although we never really back
Kate Farnsworth 30:24
off. Yeah, so she's doing great. She's finishing high school, and she has been accepted to university in September, and she will be living in residence. So we are preparing for her moving out of the house in late August. Wow. Oh, my goodness.
Stacey Simms 30:42
I'm curious. Now, I don't want to get too far off the topic here. But I'm curious, did you all as a family do anything special in terms of college prep, I have a plan in mind. I don't know if I'll do it where like Benny's, second half of his senior year of high school, I really just want to leave him alone, completely, like, stop following him, you
Kate Farnsworth 31:01
know, be here if he really needs me. But I don't know, did you do anything like that. So we have been slowly transitioning and backing off as sort of naturally as the year has progressed. So she takes care of all of her diabetes management side changes all of those things without being reminded by me, which is fantastic. I have started transitioning to her ordering supplies. So I've taught her how to, you know, it's just a login to a website, and you click what you need. And they check our insurance is not very complicated. But I have walked her through how to do that, so that she has a bit more comfort with it, we are really worried about overnight, because she currently does not wake up for low blood sugars. So we've been sort of thinking through how we can do that. And over the summer, we will be backing off that and having her finding ways to get her to wake up to her low blood sugar alarms and try and manage those overnight. Because that is my biggest concern about her moving away.
Stacey Simms 32:11
When you and I first spoke, it was the summer of 2015 was the first year of this podcast. And we were talking about nightscout I can probably dig up the pictures, I had this giant setup that I slept to friends for life that I don't use on the road anymore. When we're back on the road, I'm really excited to see people again, but we talked at the time about the nightscout project and about your help to so many people in designing the Pebble watch face, you know helping people set that up. I'm curious as you look back, I mean, a lot of people from the Do It Yourself community, you already mentioned john kostik, and many others are now working in the commercial space to bring we mentioned this towards the beginning to bring what was better technology, better care. That was really only a very, very small percentage of people to the larger community. Could you speak to that for a minute, it's amazing to me to see how far everything has come.
Kate Farnsworth 33:09
I started out with a real passion for helping people living with diabetes and trying to get you know all of the technology to them. And the problem is that we reach a certain wall with the people that we can reach online, we're sort of in this echo chamber of the same people all the time. And what we've discovered is that technology uptake is much higher in certain populations. You know, I recently did a study and we're finding that people who are Caucasian or higher income are much more likely to be using these tools than the people of color and their counterparts. So working for companies like Beta Bionics give us the opportunity to reach a much wider group of people and really gives us the opportunity because we are a public benefit company to try and engage those people that aren't being engaged currently with the tools that are available.
Stacey Simms 34:13
When you look back at your time in the DIY community. You know what stands out to you. It was such a buzzy busy time between 2013 and 2016, or even 2017. But as commercial offerings have, frankly, gotten better, you know, I know a lot of people still use the DIY stuff, but it seems like there was an energy and there was a really, you know, a time not too long ago were folks like you were I gotta imagine your phone was buzzing all the time with people asking for help. You know, what was
Kate Farnsworth 34:45
all that? Like? Yeah, it was a crazy time. And, you know, to a certain extent, those communities are still really active. The Loop community, which I run has 27,000 people in it, you know, so there's still A lot of activity surrounding these things. But I think as the commercial solutions come around, we're able to provide solutions for so many more people that that sort of aggressive need dies down from a little bit from the DIY community, because a greater number of people without maybe the same technical expertise are able to find solutions with the commercial offering. So I always said, I would keep doing that volunteer job until a commercial offering was able to put me out of business. because ideally, you know, I hope that commercial solutions like that iLet will be able to serve the diabetes community, so that we don't have to look to DIY solutions anymore.
Stacey Simms 35:49
I always hate asking this question, because I know there's probably not going to be an answer at the end of it. But what is the hoped for timeline here? Can you tell us anything about the submission or or things like that?
Kate Farnsworth 36:08
I love the silence. That's okay. I have to ask. Yeah. So as I said, once the clinical trial is completed, then we will submit for FDA regulatory clearance of the insulin only configuration. Once the FDA application is filed, there will be an FDA review of the 510 k market applications, those typically take six months. And then we will have a launch date. Once that has all been completed. This
Stacey Simms 36:38
might be an odd question. But as we start to wrap it up here, when we go to conferences, like friends for life over the last several years, and Ed Damiano speaks about the the product and the process and everything. Anything that has to do with Beta Bionics and the iLet is so closely watched, it has just become, I guess the way to say this, you guys have a lot of fans out there in the community. I mean, it might be a small portion of the entire diabetes world. But this is a really passionate group of people kind of waiting for this. Do you as you talk to each other? Like, do you feel the pressure of that? Is that exciting to you? I just would imagine and I can't answer this for you. But going to work, there must be amazing every day to know that people are so excited about the product
Kate Farnsworth 37:25
is absolutely amazing. We definitely feel the community spirit and presence and pressure to deliver you know, every day, we talked about the fact that, you know, we want to help the people living with diabetes who have been waiting for us. And we don't want to make them wait any longer than they have to. And you know, the process has taken longer than we hoped it would. So we're definitely committed to the people with diabetes that we're trying to help. And we have the most passionate team working on this, everybody is so committed. And we have so many people who are touched by type 1 diabetes, either living with Type One Diabetes, or parents of children with Type One Diabetes, or children of parents with Type One Diabetes. You know, we're part of the community. We really feel passionately about this. So we cannot wait to have this device ready for those people.
Stacey Simms 38:27
Okay, thank you so much for joining me and for being patient with my questions. I know as I said, you're limited in what you can say. But I cannot tell you how much I appreciate Beta Bionics making you accessible and coming in to share this. So and thanks for all your hard work. I cannot wait to learn more. I know you can't wait to tell us more. So thanks so much for being here.
Kate Farnsworth 38:46
Thank you so much for having me. I'm really grateful for this opportunity. And I look forward to talking to you again in the future.
Unknown Speaker 38:58
You're listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 39:04
More information at Diabetes connections.com. Or, of course in the show notes. You can always go to the homepage though, to get the full notes and the transcription of every episode. And there's a lot there. as Kate alluded to, there are some other studies, there's some more information, and it's all at Beta Bionics . So I will link that up in addition to the interviews we've done in the past with Ed Damiano, and I'm gonna link up the first interview I did with Kate back in 2015. Because looking back, that made me laugh and this has nothing to do with Beta Bionics or the pumper or technology or it's my technology. So I use very light technology.
This is just a little bit of inside baseball now on the podcast when I travel and I'm going to be traveling again to conventions this year, which is so exciting. I have a small kind of a studio in your pocket. It's a zoom h5 recorder and I use a couple of ATR 2100s if you're into that kind of microphone technology. Light stuff. I don't even need to plug it into a computer. The h5 is its own little studio. But when I interviewed Kate and I interviewed a bunch of people at that first friend for life that I went to as a podcaster, I brought my Yeti. The Yeti microphone is a brick. It's not that great a microphone actually that don't get me started. But it's a brick. And it's so, so heavy. And I brought like a mini studio, I had this paneling setup. Oh my gosh, I had so many things to check when I got on the airplane. And then I was schlepping it around the hotel at friends for life, which is not the most compact hotel. It's a lot of walking. So I'll see if I can dig up some pictures. But Kate was very patient with me as was everybody I talked to that day. Just funny how things do change over six years.
All right, we've got some Tell me something good coming up with some fantastic anniversaries, not about the podcast, some listeners who are celebrating very long time diversities and are doing great. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. And one of the most common questions I get is how to help kids become more independent. You know, those transitional times are pretty tricky. elementary to middle middle to high school. You know what I mean? Using the Dexcom makes a big difference for us. It's not all about share and follow that's helpful. Think about how much easier it is for a middle schooler to just look at their Dexcom rather than do four to five finger sticks at school or for a second grader to just show their care team their number before Jim at one point Benny was up to 10 finger sticks a day and not having to do that makes his management a lot easier for him. It's also a lot easier to spot the trends and use the technology to keep your kids more independence. Find out more at Diabetes connections.com and click on the Dexcom logo.
And tell me something good this week big time big diversities. Terry Lopes is celebrating 50 years of type 1 diabetes. She was diagnosed at the age of nine. And she made a really nice Facebook post where she talks about being grateful to the people in her life who helped her and looked out for her early on parents, siblings, friends, teachers, camp counselors, nurses, doctors, she says and thankful for those who still look out for me and for the technology that helps me have better control and live much more freely. And also makes it so that no one needs to be told they may only live to the age of 40 when diagnosed as a young child. Terry, thank you so much for sharing this. She also posted that her dad turned 90 recently as well. So Happy Birthday to him, my goodness. But it really is hard to imagine. And I know I'm so grateful to know many people who have lived with type one for 40,50, even 60,70 years. I mean, it's amazing that you know, I don't know them personally, but we've been connected online. And they were all told as children as children, that they would not live a long and healthy life. Our kids are not told that anymore. And I'm so grateful for that. Terry, I'm thrilled that you're in the group and thank you so much for sharing that.
Yerachamil Altman shared a different kind of diaverary, he posted that he has been using an insulin pump for 40 years. 4-0! he has got to be one of the first people to use an insulin pump. And we've had him on the show. I know he helped design insulin pumps. I mean, my goodness, what a life. And he always posts we're so thankful for this the old technology. So if you're in the Facebook group, Diabetes Connections, the group I'll make sure to repost this. But I mean, the first insulin pump was basically like a syringe taped to what looks like a big pager, and it just stabbed you with the needle and gave you the Insulet I don't know it just it doesn't look like something that would work. It looks like something Benny would have slapped together from spear diabetes parts when he was in second grade. God bless the people who use this and tested everything and made it so like I just said so that our kids and adults diagnosed today can live long and healthy lives. 40 years with an insulin pump, you're off a meal. Thank you for sharing that. And you know, I love sharing the good news. If you've got something Tell me about it. Stacey at Diabetes connections.com or post in the Facebook group. I love to hear it.
Before I let you go quick reminder about in the news, my new feature every Wednesday 4:30pm Eastern live on Facebook. I hope you can join me for that I'm working on some different texts. And to see if I can make it look a little bit more TV newsy. That's been really fun. I got a green screen and oh my gosh, I started out in television. And then I went to radio and then I went to podcasting. And now it's like back in TV reporting. It's bonkers. But I'm also as you know, if you're a regular podcast listener, and putting out those in the news episodes every Friday as well so if you miss it live, or you just want to hear the audio, I definitely want you to have options and like doing this a lot. It's been really fun. I'm trying to keep them short. So if you like it or you don't you've got any constructive criticism, any kind of criticism I can take but come on be nice. Please, please please let me know. I also announced on social media that I have taken a new position I am working with the fabulous folks at she podcasts. I'm Selling sponsorships for she podcasts live, which is coming up in October of this year. I'm going to do friends for life in New York in the beginning of October, and then I'm going to shoot podcasts live in the middle of October in Scottsdale, Arizona. It's going to be a busy month. I also have a big birthday in that month. So we're going to be we're looking forward to October, it's going to be great. But if you are at all involved in podcasting, and you're a woman, please check out she podcasts, I'll put a link if you are interested in reaching 1000s of women who podcast You don't have to be a technology company. But if you want to reach women who are movers and shakers, let me know because I can hook you up. That's my new gig. I'm still gonna be doing the podcast of course, and all my other projects. This is perfect because I get to meet some new people and do some fun stuff. But I don't have to give up anything but maybe some sleep. I don't know. I'm gonna get this done.
Alright, thank you, as always to my editor John Bukeas from audio editing solutions. Thank you so much for listening six years. Oh my gosh. I'm Stacey Simms. I'll see you back here in just a couple of days. Until then, be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
It's getting hot out there and it's vital we keep insulin at the right temperature. However, that's something health care providers say isn’t always front of mind. Stacey talks to Diana Isaacs, a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist and a CDE at the Cleveland Clinic. We’ll get the real deal about insulin temperature and suggest some ways to keep your supply safe.
In Tell Me Something Good… glamorous inspiration and a grateful mom – plus babies! And a big anniversary.
Check out VIVI-CAP www.tempramed.com - use promo code DIACON21 to save 10% off your purchase! (promo code valid through 8/31/2021)
EPISODE TEXT HERE...
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Episode Transcription below
Stacey Simms 0:00
Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario health. Manage your blood glucose levels increase your possibilities by Gvoke Hypopen the first premixed auto injector for very low blood sugar and by Dexcom take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with Dexcom.
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 0:26
This week, it's getting hot out there a conversation about keeping your insulin at the right temperature. It's something healthcare providers say isn't always front of mind when we're troubleshooting tough diabetes days.
Diana Isaacs 0:39
Why are the blood sugars out of range this day? Why was it in range this day? And why? What's the difference? And this is really one of those pieces to the puzzle. And I think we spend so much of our time worried about other pieces like food that sometimes this really goes neglected.
Stacey Simms 0:55
Diana Isaac's is a Clinical Pharmacy specialist and a CDE at the Cleveland Clinic, we'll get the real deal about insulin temperature and suggest some ways to keep your supply safe
in Tell me something good, glamorous inspiration, a grateful mom and babies plus a big anniversary.
Welcome to another week of the show. I'm always so glad to have you here. We aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin. You know, My son was diagnosed 14 years ago, just before he turned to my husband lives with type two diabetes. I don't have diabetes, but I have a background in broadcasting. And that is how you get the podcast. I live in the southeast us in North Carolina. So it has been warming up for quite a while here. But pretty much all over the United States. We are seeing the warmer weather hot summer is coming. Shout out to our listeners in Australia and elsewhere in the world where summer is not coming please save this episode for a few months. But in addition to the advice here, I've got a thread going in the Diabetes Connections Facebook group about what to use not only to keep insulin cool, but to keep diabetes gear holding tight in the summertime CGM and pump sites as you know, tend to slide off in the wetness sweat. So please check that out. Lots of good suggestions. And as I mentioned, in my book, the world's worst diabetes mom, we really like stay put medical to hold stuff on. But I'll tell you in a pinch Benny will just slap a big waterproof bandaid over his Dexcom I really like the clear tegaderm stuff, but I mean he doesn't care yelled us anything and you can find that in a CVS. So if you're off to the beach and you don't have anything, it really comes in handy. Most of the rest of the stuff that's being suggested in that Facebook group thread has to be special ordered either Amazon or the website from the company that makes it
okay quick housekeeping note, you will hear my guest mention a product called VIVI cap in this interview and I have a promo code for you if you want to buy it you'll get a discount if you use the code, but I'm not being paid by VIVI cap. Although we are talking about doing something together in the near future. My guest is not a paid consultant for VIVI cap. She really likes the product and they know that and they helped coordinate this interview that said this conversation is about a lot more than one product. So whatever you use, keeping insulin at the right temperature is really important that promo code for VIVI cap is DIACON21, which gets you 10% off the firstname.lastname@example.org I'm pretty sure you're not listening with a pen. So I will put that in the show notes and on the episode homepage at Diabetes connections.com.
My guest this week is Diana Isaacs, she is a Clinical Pharmacy specialist and the remote monitoring program coordinator at the Cleveland Clinic Diabetes Center. She was the 2020 at CES Diabetes Care and Education Specialist of the year and a Cleveland Clinic. She does have a pretty unique CGM training program. And you'll hear about that during the interview as well.
But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario health. And we first noticed Daario a couple of years ago at a conference and Benny thought being able to turn your smartphone into a meter was pretty amazing. I'm excited to tell you that Daario offers even more now, the Daario diabetes success plan gives you all the supplies and support you need to succeed. You'll get a glucometer that fits in your pocket, unlimited test strips and lancets delivered to your door and a mobile app with complete view of your data. The plan is tailored for you with coaching when and how you need it and personalized reports based on your activity. Find out more go to my daario.com forward slash diabetes dash connections. Diana Isaac's welcome. Thanks so much for joining me. I'm really interested to talk more about this. Thanks for being here.
Diana Isaacs 4:46
Great. Thank you so much for having me.
Stacey Simms 4:48
Or it is getting hot. I know that not everybody lives like I do in the south where it's been hot for a while. But let's start by talking about what you tell your patients.
Diana Isaacs 4:58
Yeah, so many people don't really The storage and the storage of insulin is so important. It's actually very fragile. And if it's not stored correctly, it actually most commonly it loses its potency. So it ends up you know that 10 units of insulin that you inject doesn't work like 10 units to work like seven units, like six units, you just don't know exactly, it's just will not be as potent.
Stacey Simms 5:18
When we're talking about storage of insulin. I know if I leave it in my hot car, and it gets to be, you know, above 110 degrees, it's going to lose its potency, but day to day, just kind of throwing it in the bag or having it with you, how do you need to store it,
Diana Isaacs 5:33
it's recommended any unused insulin pens or vials or cartridges should actually stay in the refrigerator, once it's been opened, then typically, it's good at room temperature for either 28 days, or some of the newer insulins are good up to 56 days, when it goes above that room temperature, that's when you really can't guarantee the potency anymore, and that's when it can break down and it is not going to be as effective. And in terms of Well, what's the danger of that? Well, a you really have no idea how much you're giving yourself. Because like suddenly, you know, what you usually give yourself isn't going to work as effectively. And you know, the real risk or the big risk would be a complication like diabetes ketoacidosis, where you're just not getting enough insulin and that could be you know, a life threatening complication,
Stacey Simms 6:23
what is considered room temperature
Diana Isaacs 6:25
78.8 degrees, it should be it should not go over 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit or 26 degrees Celsius,
Stacey Simms 6:32
you mentioned that the newer insolence can be out of the fridge for 56 days which insolence.
Diana Isaacs 6:37
So specifically, the ultra long acting like tresiba, insulin degludec, and then toujeo, which is insulin collaging. You 300 those lasts a little bit longer at room temperature.
Stacey Simms 6:49
Do you have any idea why I know those are made up a little differently from like, you know, Lantus or levemir.
Diana Isaacs 6:54
Yeah, the you know, they're just, they're made a little bit differently, which allows them to act longer in the body. And that's how they were studied to show that the potency, you know, still really maintains a fact at that point. And I mean, it's good also, because there's larger pens that holds more units. And so you know, that way a person, if they needed it for 56 days could have that the reality is a lot of people with the doses that they're on, you know, will go through a pen, you know, much faster than been 28 days. All right,
Stacey Simms 7:26
we're gonna do some True Confessions here, because I gotta tell you, we have kept insulin a lot longer than 20 days. And we have, and again, I'm not a diabetes educator, and endocrinologist. So you know, I'm just telling you what we have done as you listen, not just for you. But for example, Benny had a vial of insulin, my son that he took in and out of the fridge at school for almost an entire year, it was like a backup. So he would use it if he needed it. And when he was in elementary school, he used like, drops of insulin. It's not like now and he's a teenager. So we would put it in the fridge at the beginning of the school year, and then he would like take it out, use it, put it back in, take it out music, put it back in. Now, I know that's not advised. But it does work. So I mean, how delicate really is insulin, if we can get away with doing something like that.
Diana Isaacs 8:08
So Oh, man, you're burning my ears as a pharmacist? Oh, I hear that. But yeah, I mean, we know that that is reality that people are doing that. I think, you know, as long as it has maintained its room temperature, or refrigeration, probably a lot of insulins have at least close to the near potency for longer. It's just it really can't be guaranteed beyond that point. Because how it studied, I think, where things become different, or when it's exposed to too much heat, like we know for a fact that when it's exposed to high temperatures, or direct sunlight, it mean it loses its potency almost immediately. And if you've ever had you know, the insulin just sitting in the sun and then try to inject it, I I'm willing to bet it would be different. It wouldn't it would not work as well.
Stacey Simms 8:53
Right? And I think with that example that I gave, it never got below the refrigerator temperature because it was out and in so quickly. But I give that example because I know people who once they take it to the fridge, they think that's it. And it's just it was probably out for less than three minutes.
Diana Isaacs 9:08
Yeah. So I mean, that's interesting, right? So it's still you use it, but right, it wasn't out as much. So obviously, it's not ideal. We can't confirm how you know that it's so potent, but it sounds like in your case it was I have seen a lot of situations though, where people use insulin for example, longer in their pumps, like usually we say to change it out, you know, every three days and an insulin pump and people go five days, seven days and a lot of people notice as they go further out from those three days that it seems like they are needing more insulin that it is losing some of its potency.
Stacey Simms 9:39
I will say one of the only times we had an I refer to it very scientifically, skunky insulin. The only time we had skunky insulin was we had come home from summer camp and had unpacked the car but we had not seen like one of the bags kind of worked its way into the corner. And of course that was the bag that had two vials of insulin and two or three days later in our house. Summer car. We this was years and years ago, we used it anyway, of course, it did nothing. It was like sailing, or it was really bad. So that was a realization like, oh, it really does get terrible.
Unknown Speaker 10:12
Yeah. All that precious insulin law. I know. I know,
Stacey Simms 10:17
well, once we know, it's been 14 and a half years, so it happens, it happens. What do you advise patients then to do I mean, obviously, we can change out pump insulin more often. But as you said, Nobody wants to waste precious insulin like that. What are the tips that you give people to keep their insulin cool in the summertime, whether it's in a pump in a vial, that kind of
Diana Isaacs 10:42
thing? Yeah, so I'm a really big fan of something called the Vivi cap. And this is actually can go over like, it can replace the cap of an insulin pen, and you put it on there, and it guarantees that it stays at room temperature, even if it's exposed to, you know, a really hot car, really extreme temperatures, that is something that I've really been recommending for my patients, because it's just, it's a simple tool. And that way, you don't have to stress about like trying to, you know, I see a lot of people trying to get ice packs and things and that, that's risky, because you could accidentally freeze your insulin. So some a tool like the vivie cap, I find is really, really helpful,
Stacey Simms 11:20
you want to take us through a little bit of what it does.
Diana Isaacs 11:23
Sure, basically, it replaces the cap. So essentially, you know, like, let's say you have a novolog pen, right that you're using for your meal time injection. So you would go ahead and you would take off the cap. And instead, you would go ahead and you would put this Vivi cap directly on it, and you would replace that. And then you honestly, you can just throw it in your purse, in your bag, or whatever. And when you want to be sure that the insulin, you know, let's say you were in extreme temperatures, it was in your 100 degree car, and you're not sure if this insulin is going to be effective or not, there's a button at the top of it, and you go ahead and you press it. And if that button becomes green, then you know that that insulin was stored properly, it is a safe temperature, and it is safe to be able to use it if the D button would turn red, that would tell you Oh, there was an issue, the insulin is not safe. Now the good news is the way it actually you know, through a thermal cooling mechanism is actually getting rid of the heat where the insulin is. And so it's saying, you know, keeping it at room temperature. And why this is important also is because a lot of other things out there will make insulin really cold or accidentally freeze it or just make a cold. And really once it's out, and once it's open, it should say every temperature and so this really ensures that it will happen.
Stacey Simms 12:52
That's interesting. So the V cap doesn't necessarily keep it cold. It keeps it like it doesn't keep it refrigerated.
Diana Isaacs 12:59
Right, it's keeping it at room temperature. So it's really meant for the pen that you're using you're actively using. You can throw this cap on you can put it on your long acting and your mealtime insulin, and you can go on a trip, you can go wherever do whatever and it will stay at room temperature.
Stacey Simms 13:17
Here's a dumb question. We don't use pens very often. So I'm curious, do all pins have the same caps would this fit on pretty much any insulin pen
RIGHT BACK TO DIANA in just a moment but first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Gvoke Hypopen and when you have diabetes and use insulin, low blood sugar can happen when you don't expect it. That's why most of us carry fast acting sugar and in the case of very low blood sugar why we carry emergency glucagon? There's a new option called Gvoke Hypopen. The first auto injector to treat very low blood sugar. Gvoke Hypopen is pre mixed and ready to go with no visible needle in usability studies. 99% of people were able to give Gvoke correctly find out more go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Gvoke logo. Gvoke shouldn't be used in patients with pheochromocytoma or insulinoma visit Gvoke glucagon comm slash risk.
Now back to Diana answering my question about what type of insulin pen fits in the VIVI cap?
Diana Isaacs 14:25
No, that's a really good question. So they actually make different ones for different types of pens. So for example, if you're using like the novalogic products like novolog, and for siba are similar. There's a V cap for those. If you're using like human log products, they have a different Vivi cap. And so yeah, depending on the type of insulin that you're using, you would just go ahead and get the vivie cap that goes corresponding to the one that you need.
Stacey Simms 14:49
It's amazing that until now, I mean we're seeing a few more products address this, but it seems like you know insulin has been around for a long time and you know until recently cuz I've seen a few products like this until recently, the freo is the only thing I can think of that was really out there affordable, you know, easy to use, do you think people are just kind of catching on to the fact that this is really important?
Diana Isaacs 15:11
Well, I think this is just like a really neglected area. Like I spend a lot of my time like analyzing glucose levels, looking at CGM, and in blood sugars and all that kind of stuff. You know, often you're trying to figure out the puzzle. Why are the blood sugars out of range this day? Why was it in range this day? And why? What's the difference? And this is really one of those pieces to the puzzle. And I think we spend so much of our time worried about other pieces like food that sometimes this really goes neglected. And as it's summer, you know, summer is approaching is really a good opportunity to remind everyone that this is a really important for insulin. I mean, this is so so important and will affect it, if it's not stored properly.
Stacey Simms 15:52
It just sounds like common sense. But I'm curious, have there been studies of this? Do we have any idea how many people are having issues with insulin that's not stored properly, or using insulin that has, you know, been out of the fridge for too long? Is there any information on that?
Diana Isaacs 16:08
Well, I don't know, if we have, you know, we certainly don't have like randomized control trial data on that. I mean, how would you do it? Right? I can tell you anecdotally, I think it's just difficult to capture. Because you could ask people I mean, oh, with any person will say that they've had their insulin at high temperatures at some point. I mean, if you, you know, are a human being that goes outside, you know, it's likely that your, you know, your insulin was exposed to higher than room temperature. It's just a matter of how long and I think in the summer, it's really easy for it to, you know, when you meant for it to just be a couple of minutes, that ends up being hours. And then before you know it, you just don't know. And I think also it's difficult to classify, because there's so many reasons that blood sugars can go higher. And so in the moment, it might be hard for someone to be like, Oh, wait, oh, yeah, I was, you know, I left my insulin in the car for three hours. That's why my blood sugar is so high versus they might be thinking, Oh, was it the food I ate? Or am I under stress? So I think sometimes it's just difficult for people to make that connection that it really was the insulin that made their sugars higher,
Stacey Simms 17:11
because I'm kind of picturing people listening to this episode of had diabetes for a long time going, I don't need that. It's been fine. Right? And I'm kind of one of those people that I'm like, Oh, it's fine. I can't imagine this really happening all the time. But you're exactly right. How would we know?
Diana Isaacs 17:26
Yeah, I would just encourage people to reflect on it. I mean, it likely has happened. If you had diabetes long enough, it's probably happened at some point in your life where your insulin hasn't been stored perfectly, right. I am a really big fan of patient choice, and people knowing what's out there. So if you've come up with a perfect solution, or your insulin is always at home, and you never go out great. You don't need something like the Vivi cat. But you know, if you're out you're traveling or going on a trip, I think it's good to know what options exist out there.
Stacey Simms 17:54
I'm curious too. And this is kind of separate from vicap. My son is using insulin pumps since he was two years old. And he we live in the south, as I've mentioned, and it's always hot, the summer is ridiculous. But he has the insulin next to his body. His body is pretty warm all the time. Is there any Are there any issues with that three days in the pump? Do you see people having more issues in the summertime? And do you ever recommend, you know, changing the insulin at more often because of temperature?
Diana Isaacs 18:20
I do. Yeah. A lot of people have issues is especially in the summer. I'm like I've seen people with like Omni pod. And it's just like boiling in the sun. And it goes bad very quickly. So yeah, I am a fan of encouraging people to change more often, like every two days instead of every three days if they notice that it's wearing off sooner. So I think like a lot of people should consider that in the summer if they noticed that third day there. boluses are just not having the same effects on their blood sugar's.
Stacey Simms 18:46
We've also found that winter to summer, we always have to change basil rates. And that's probably because of activity, but it's also because of heat. And I know that that affects people differently. How do you advise your patients to look at the weather and how it affects their bodies?
Diana Isaacs 19:01
That's a good question. I mean, everyone is affected a little bit differently. I really like Adam brown from diatribe. And he talks about 42 factors that affect glucose levels. And actually a sunburn is one of the things that could affect levels, it could increase glucose. So I think, you know, weather can affect it any kind of stressor on the body can absolutely affect glucose levels, but it is very individualized. For many people, the weather won't be a huge deal. But for some they may be more sensitive. And I think the best thing is to really reflect on it to review data with a diabetes educator or diabetes care and education specialist and really try to determine what are the patterns and who knows, yeah, it could be whether it does create a pattern for someone that if you know that it's helpful, because then you can kind of preemptively prepare for it and give yourself more or less insulin as needed.
Stacey Simms 19:52
Can we talk about sunburn for a minute, because every year in the parenting groups, somebody comes in and says it's their first time can the sunburn I raise my kids blood sugar, and everybody kind of says yes, yes. Why is that? Is it just trauma to the body? Is it like being ill?
Diana Isaacs 20:07
Yeah, I think it's like anytime there's a stressor on the body that can affect it. So yeah, if it's causing stress, you know, sunburns can be pretty painful. And we know pain can increase glucose, so it's likely related to those factors.
Stacey Simms 20:21
I don't wanna change the subject too much, but I'm reading your bio. You know, in researching for this episode, he talks about how you run a CGM shared medical appointment program. Can you tell us what that is?
Diana Isaacs 20:33
Yeah, so I am a big advocate of CGM of continuous glucose monitoring. And in our program, we often introduce people to CGM for the first time. And so with our shared medical appointments, we have usually four to six people with diabetes, and we have a meeting. And then we also have a dietician, and it's a two part shared appointment. And the first part, we get everyone together we place the CGM, and we have a discussion about what are the glucose targets and what kind of things affect glucose levels. We also review how to treat high and low glucose levels. And then everyone comes back after seven days and we download the devices and we we actually show everybody's data on a big screen and we go through it together. It's really interesting because a lot of people there, you know, there's similar things like the overtreating Alo or learning you know how oatmeal affects your blood sugar's you know, like, there's a lot of similarities that kind of it's nice to have that group environment. Yeah, that's
Stacey Simms 21:30
I've so many questions, but my first one would be, you'll have to, you'll have to come back on and just talk CGM with us. I'm curious, how do you manage or handle when people are looking at everybody's CGM numbers? And some must feel like, Oh, that's bad? Or I didn't do that very well. You know, do you talk about that part as well, and kind of managing the data mentally.
Diana Isaacs 21:51
So my rule is data numbers are data, and they cannot be good or bad. So it's simply being in target or out of target. But it's not a judgment, there's no such thing as good or bad numbers. And I'm really careful about this. I mean, even you know, when someone is 100%, in range, and has an agency of 6%, I try really hard not to say, Oh, that's so good. Like, you know, do jumping jacks, because, you know, I don't want someone then to have a higher agency and to be less than range and then not want to come back for their appointment because they think I'm only be happy when it's, you know, in range. So it's really an important point to not be judgmental with with data.
Stacey Simms 22:27
Oh, all right. You're gonna have to come back on and talk to us more about that. I think that's,
Unknown Speaker 22:31
I'd love to Alright, good. Good. Good.
Stacey Simms 22:32
All right, back to the summer, though. So since you work with a lot of people with with CGM, do you find that there are ways for people to keep their gear better on in the summer? Do you have any advice for that? Because diabetes technology can be kind of slippy in the summer?
Diana Isaacs 22:45
Yeah, no, it can be. So I'm a big fan of skin tack and of overlay patches, like sin patch, and stuff for keeping on CGM sensors and sites for the pump. I think technique with everything is really important. Making sure the skin is clean and dry. You know, placing it right after a person has recently showered or bathed just to have the most success with it digging and staying on. But I think absolutely using products like skin tack mass assault, for people that sweat, it's just it's like kind of a must to have those extra, those things can really help.
Stacey Simms 23:17
Yeah, we found or at least just anecdotally, everybody's skin is so different that you know, overlays vary brand to brand. So unfortunately, you kind of have to keep trying until you see what works for you. And one of the nice things we did locally when we could meet up and we're going to start meeting up again, which I'm very excited about is I always tell people, like let's bring samples, right? Because you get like a 20 pack of sim patch, and I get a 20 pack of stay put medical patches and you know, people just bring different brands, and then we can kind of trade because I used four or five different brands on my son before we found what worked. So if you're listening and you have a local group, and you're meeting up again, that's just something you can try cuz it's so frustrating.
Diana Isaacs 23:55
Yeah. And sometimes like, right, you put something on over it, and then you know, it starts peeling off after a couple of days, you have to put another thing over it. So yeah, I agree trial and error. You know, we
Stacey Simms 24:05
spoke a lot about the temperature extremes with insulin on the warm end, we touched on freezing, but let's talk about that again. What's the danger of insulin freezing? I mean, we know it doesn't work well. But is there anything to say about that in terms of why? Or you know, is it just that you mean, obviously, if it's frozen, you can't put it in a syringe, but it does completely lose its potency? Right?
Diana Isaacs 24:26
Well, I don't know if it completely loses its potency, but it very much does. But also, I mean, particles may form to which could make it definitely more difficult injecting and then I mean, I guess it could cause pain with injection as well. So I mean, it's just another reminder to like anything, you should really always visually inspect the insulin as well. And most insolence should be clear. So checking for that is really important as well.
Stacey Simms 24:54
Yeah, that's the the hotel refrigerator syndrome. So many times the fridge In the hotel is not set to the correct temperature. So you put your vial of insulin and it freezes. I've heard that so many times. It's just terrible.
Diana Isaacs 25:07
Yeah, I mean, it's really, it's really a problem. And so yeah, I mean, that's a really good point, when you're traveling, it's often really hard to rely on the hotel refrigerator, which is often is not set correctly for temperature is the right temperature,
Stacey Simms 25:21
what we usually do is, if we're staying for more than one night, is we'll put something you know, water, we'll put whatever in that fridge and kind of see how it does in a couple of hours, to see if we trust the insulin. But that's only helpful if you're going to be there for a couple of days, and you have a way to keep your extra insulin, you know, at a cool temperature, because so much of what we're talking about is not even so much for the the insulin you're using at that moment, although you want to keep it at room temperature, exactly. But you know, we don't have to keep it refrigerated. But when you're traveling with extra insulin, that's really a problem.
Diana Isaacs 25:52
I just would encourage people to think about it and just be just plan. I mean, just have a plan for the summer, whatever that plan is. And just be aware that I think some of the traditional methods that people use, like using like a lunch bag and putting an ice pack in it can, you know, you don't really know that temperature that's going to be in there. So there is an option available that you can be assured it's going to stay at room temperature. And it's just it's really simple. And it doesn't take up all this extra space and everything. I think that's the key. It's just it's a super simple thing. And so I would just encourage people to kind of check it out and go to the website and learn more about it.
Stacey Simms 26:34
It's interesting too, because insulins not alone, I mean, so many medications are temperature sensitive, as newer insulins come out, do you think that the temperature sensitivity will ever be factored out of insulin? Or it's just it's just part of the component?
Diana Isaacs 26:51
It's a really good question. Because I I'm sure you know, there's research in this area to see can insulin be more stable, or it's not? I think the problem is, it's just it's a large peptide. And, like due to its nature, it's just really hard to get it to be stable for a long period of time. I mean, it's one of the reasons why we don't have oral insulin, at least not yet. Like we don't have it in pill form. It's just really, really unstable. I think it's going to be challenging. Maybe one day we'll have that. But it's definitely going to be a challenge to
Stacey Simms 27:19
have that. You mentioned the newer insolence, like the longer acting like to CBOE and toujeo. Is that considered an advancement? Or is it just different, it's not going to apply to the shorter acting?
Diana Isaacs 27:30
Well, I think it is an advancement, in that we have an insulin that they were able to alter to work longer in the body, which I think ultimately really helped to stabilize blood sugars. And when you think about like, where we progressed, we started off with NPH, which you know, only works like half a day. And then we got longer act insulins like lantis and lab Amir, and then now we have these, like ultra long ones, like TJ Oh, and receba. And there's actually a weekly insulin that's in development that hopefully will, you know, see in the near future. So I think we're definitely making advancements and insulin, which is really exciting. Although the other area where we need to make advancements, which is a whole other episode is the affordability of insulin as well. But there are definitely advancements that are are being made. So yes, maybe with the storage, those will be things that will get better. But I don't see it completely resolving, you know, anytime soon.
Stacey Simms 28:23
How do pharmacies Sue with this? I mean, as far as I know, we've never had a problem getting our insulin from the pharmacy at the right temperature, of course, then I have to bring it home. And we do a lot with mail order as well and knock on wood. It's always been delivered, I think at the right temperature. Is there a problem from that perspective as well, like in the supply chain,
Diana Isaacs 28:43
know, the supply chain is heavily regulated? So I mean, they are monitoring refrigerators constantly. And they have certain standards, there's inspection so you can feel really good about the supply chain. It's really once it gets to the person that it's not regulated. But yeah, in the pharmacy, it is very, very maintained to a tee to those temperature and they're like specialized refrigerators is not just your it's definitely not your hotel refrigerator that for storing Insulet
Stacey Simms 29:12
Yeah, it's good. That's good. That is good. Before I let you go, I'm just curious. I we have been lucky enough to see my son's endocrinologist in person for the last couple of visits when we did a lot of telehealth. Are you seeing people back in the office? I mean, how are you all doing through all this?
Diana Isaacs 29:29
I never stopped seeing people in the office. So I've been here through the whole pandemic, I've actually come to work every day. Now. A lot of our visits have been virtual out of convenience for people but we are open and people could come here you know, whenever they want. And some For some it's preferred because as much as we've made advances in technology, we you know, we've got some patients who really have challenges downloading their data at home and stuff and it's, it's good to have them in the clinic. So yeah, our doors are open and but I will Say telehealth has flourished. And for a lot of people, it just makes so much more sense. Like today this morning, you know, we trained a person on their new pump. And rather than like me having to have her come in next week, I can just do a virtual and just look at her data that way and make adjustments. That's kind of where we're at with it.
Stacey Simms 30:15
I would imagine your patients have been very happy to walk in and see you during this past year. Like it's very be very reassuring. I was surprised how when we were able to see my son's endocrinologist again. I'm kind of happy we were.
Diana Isaacs 30:29
Yeah, I think it's nice. And I mean, I feel especially now with like the vaccine now that we've all been vaccinated, I feel very, you know, I feel great. It was definitely a little stressful. Like, I'll tell you back in December, we were doing our CGM shared medical appointment. And I had a class of four people and I, you know, you see people starting to like, move their masks down, and you're like, Oh, my gosh, is this safe, like at this stage, because we're doing a class and that was right, when the numbers were really increasing? So we did, we did pause them for a few months till the numbers came down. But But yeah, I think overall, you know, it's good. It has been reassuring. And you know, it's care doesn't stop, like some people are getting new insulin pumps. And yes, while you can get, you could do virtual training. And for many people, we do like some people really want that hands on time, when that was their first time starting upon, they want to come in and see it.
Stacey Simms 31:17
I can't imagine the people who were diagnosed this past year or had children diagnosed and were more isolated than normal. It's isolating enough to have diabetes. And I just can't imagine. So thanks for doing that. And, you know, keeping in touch with everybody, I mean, I'm not your patient. You don't really know me, but I want to say thank you.
Diana Isaacs 31:34
Oh, you're welcome. I mean, I love doing it. I love working with people with diabetes. It's so rewarding. And it's like, I just, yeah, I just feel like I feel very optimistic. With all the new technology and the advances being made. I just feel like, yeah, there's so much opportunity to help people.
Stacey Simms 31:50
Well, thank you so much for spending so much time with me. And we'll have you back on to talk more about CGM and the shared medical stuff. I think that sounds great. Thank you so much.
Unknown Speaker 31:57
Oh, you're very welcome. Yeah, thanks for the opportunity.
Unknown Speaker 32:05
You're listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms
Stacey Simms 32:11
I’ve got more information about the temperature at which insulin is supposed to stay. We touched on that. But if you'd like to learn more, and there's some more studies that really delve into this, I'll put that at Diabetes connections.com. Every episode has its own homepage there. If you're listening on an app for podcasts, there are always show notes, but some of them don't show these things very well, you can always come back to the main page, and I'll put it there with a transcript as well.
And the promo code for VIVI Cap is DIACON21, like Diabetes Connections, di a co n di a con 21, which gets you 10% off the product. Alright, tell me something good. Coming up help prom photos provided some unexpected inspiration.
But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. So I was watching a movie with my husband the other night, and I got a Dexcom alert and he was upstairs in his room. And you know, for some reason, that took me back to the days when we basically had blood sugar checks on a timer, we would check doing a finger stick the same time every day at home and at school and you know, whatever extra we needed to. But it's amazing to think about how much our diabetes management has changed with share and follow. I didn't have to stop the movie to get up and check him. I knew what was going on, I could decide whether to just text him or go upstairs and help him out. Using the share and follow apps have really helped us talk less about diabetes, which I never thought would happen with a teenager. Trust me, he loves that part too. That's what's so great about the Dexcom system. I think for the caregiver or the spouse or the friend, you can help the person with diabetes manage in the way that works for your individual situation. Internet connectivity is required to access Dexcom follow separate follow up required, go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Dexcom logo.
Tell me something good this week, I don't know about you. I'm in a lot of moms groups. And I have seen a bajillion prom photos over the last month and it's really nice. But one of the things that happened that I didn't expect is that it provided diabetes inspiration to families, especially families with younger kids, I don't have permission to share her name. So I'm just gonna tell you the story here. But this woman posted that she was looking at all the pictures of the beautiful girls and their dresses and their Dexcom and their pumps and their Omni pods showing. And you know, she was excited to see that. But her little girl who's totally into the princess phase right now she's six or seven years old, loved seeing the photos of all these grown up girls with diabetes. And it really provided an easier way to get her little girl to feel better about the gear that she is wearing. And I just thought that after all these years was still kind of unexpected. Now let's be honest, not everybody wants to show their gear all the time. And that's okay too. And honestly, I highly doubt that these girls are going to the prom thinking. I'm gonna have my mom posted. On Instagram or Facebook and that's going to inspire somebody else. Right? But man did it ever. So thanks to all of you who did that, who posted the photos? What a cool thing
I have to wish a happy wedding anniversary to Janice and Bill Grigsby they celebrated 50 years married in April. And Janice was cute. I was asking for good news in the Diabetes Connections group and she wrote that may not be what you were looking for, since it doesn't have to do with diabetes. But you know, Janice, we're all together because of diabetes. Janice and Bill's daughter marked 20 years with type one late last year, so I think that counts so congratulations on that amazing milestone. It doesn't all have to be diversities. 50 years married. That is fantastic.
And a big congrats to Alison nim Lowe's, who had a baby last week, little Stellan joins Big Brother Henrik is still in it was a little impatient came into the world a little bit early. So he'll be staying at the hospital for a while. And they helped to bring him home by the end of May. But everybody's doing well. Alison is somebody I've known for years. She's been on the show before I will link up that episode. She's on social media as the diabetic therapist Of course, we talked about therapy and mental health in that episode, but congratulations all around really exciting stuff. If you have something good to share, please let me know Stacy at Diabetes, Connections comm or pop into our Facebook group and share when I asked on a regular basis. Just tell me something good.
Before I let you go, quick reminder that on Wednesdays in May, I am doing in the news, a live diabetes newscast every Wednesday at 4:30pm. Eastern time. I hope you can join me for that. I'm also turning it around to then putting it out on different social platforms. And on this podcast. That episode right usually has been coming up Thursdays or Fridays. And it looks like we may continue this because people are really liking it. I definitely need to know how you feel about it though. So you can email me comment on the post itself. It's a little bit of different work than the podcast to be honest with you. Not necessarily more work, but I do have to brush my hair and put some lipstick on to go live on Facebook. That's just how I am if I continue this, maybe you'll see me eventually in the ponytail and opaque but I'm having a lot of fun doing it. And I think it's a need. We don't really have a diabetes newscast anywhere. So I may continue. I will be deciding probably between this weekend next week's episode, and I'll definitely let you know.
Thanks as always to my editor John Bukenas from audio editing solutions and thank you so much for listening. I'm Stacey Simms. I'll see you back here in just a couple of days. Until then be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged
After decades with just one not-so-user-friendly option, another shelf stable rescue glucagon enters the market. It’s called Zegalogue, FDA-approved and coming soon in both an auto injector and a prefilled syringe. One additional future use will be in the Beta Bionics iLet pump with two chambers – one for the insulin and one for this glucagon.
Stacey talks with Frank Sanders, President of Zealand Pharma U.S. and Dr. David Kendall, Senior Global Medical Advisor. This interview covers everything from the use of Zegalogue now to cost and a look at how far treatments have come.
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Episode transcription below
Stacey Simms 0:00
Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario health manage your blood glucose levels increase your possibilities by Gvoke Hypopen, the first premixed autoinjector for very low blood sugar and by Dexcom keeping you in control with an integrated system for diabetes management.
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 0:27
This week after decades with just one not so user friendly option, another rescue glucagon enters the market. It's called Zegalogue, one future use will be a pump with two chambers, one for the insulin and one for glucagon.
Frank Sanders 0:43
So, with insulin being one side of that equation, when glucose does go lower, instead of simply shutting off the insulin and waiting for it to clear from the system, you have counterbalance, or the ability to counter regulate with the glucagon infusion in small little delivery boluses.
Stacey Simms 1:02
That's Frank Sanders president of Zealand pharmacy in the US, he and Dr. David Kendall, their senior global medical advisor, join me to talk about everything from the use of Zegalogue now to cost and to look at how far treatments have come. And spotting a diabetes pump in the wild never gets old. I'll tell you a quick story about what happened with us. This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
Welcome to another week of the show. I'm so glad to have you all here we aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin. My son Ben in the state is 14 years ago with type one, my husband lives with type two, I don't have diabetes, I have a background in broadcasting. And that is how you get this podcast.
Thank you for the great feedback out last week's not really a bonus episode. But second episode that I've been doing, I changed it up again. And I released Diabetes Connections in the news, many of you have already listened to it. But I'm thrilled that I'm getting reaction. I don't even mind if it's constructive criticism or just I hate it. I really would like to know what you think I'm experimenting throughout the month of May. We're going to do four episodes of in the news live on Facebook first on Wednesdays at 430. And then a podcast episode that will turn around probably Thursday night or Friday morning and get you caught up on the week's news. So please let me know we have a post going in the Facebook group as well.
You know, six years ago, I launched this podcast and I liked that I'm still experimenting with it. And I hope that you do too because the idea is just to get you good information that you can use whether it's long format like we're going to do today, or short headlines, like I'm trying with that in the news stuff. And of course we throw in some personal stories here and there. And after this interview, I'll tell you about Benny's first wrestling match and how you know we spotted diabetes in the wild.
Alright, my guests this week are from Zealand Pharmaceutical, they just got FDA approval a few weeks ago for Zegalogue. The newest shelf stable emergency glucagon, you know, it really is incredible when you think about it the last 40 or 50 years more than that all we've had for emergency glucagon has been the stuff in the red or orange emergency box, the kind that you have to reconstitute yourself you know, and studies show that most people even those trained you don't use it very well especially under stress. And now we have three options vaccine me and G vo hypo pen and Vega log. You're going to hear from Frank Sanders. He's the president of Zealand pharmacy and Dr. David Kendall. He is their senior global medical advisor Frank Sanders has been in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 25 years. He has been with a company called therapeutics he's been with Johnson and Johnson's pharmaceutical arm many of you are familiar with Janssen pharmaceutical. He's been with GlaxoSmithKline and Dr. David Kendall has held many leadership positions in the diabetes community including at mankind at Lilly at the American Diabetes Association and at the International Diabetes Center in Minneapolis. Dr. Kendall and I also go way off topic toward the end because he served as a clinical investigator with the dcct and edic trials here homeless tourists will remember those evidence based on hope episode, which is one of my all time favorites, I will talk about the DCC T and edic trials at the drop of a hat. And I was so excited that Dr. Kendall can too
Okay, quick disclosure gotta tell you, your competitor to this product is a sponsor of this show. In fact, I'm about to read an ad from them. But as you know, Diabetes Connections is here to help you get information about the diabetes community and I don't limit who we talk to because of who spends money on advertising. Now on the flip side, the advertisers are also on board with all of that so I give them a lot of credit to longtime listeners are familiar with all of this, but just in case, I like to talk about it every time and let's keep things on the up and up.
Okay, let me tell you then Diabetes Connections is Brought to you by Gvoke Hypopen and our endo always told us that if you use insulin, you need to have emergency glucagon on hand as well. Low blood sugars are one thing, we're usually able to treat those with fast acting glucose tabs or juice. But a very low blood sugar can be frightening which is why I am so glad there's a different option for emergency glucagon. It's Gvoke Hypopen . Gvoke Hypopen is pre mixed and ready to go with no visible needle, you pull off the red cap and push the yellow end onto bare skin and hold it for five seconds. That's it, find out more go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Gvoke logo. Gvoke shouldn't be used in patients with pheochromocytoma or insulinoma. Visit gvokeglucagon dot com slash risk.
Frank Sanders, Dr. Kendall, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm really interested to learn more about this. I appreciate you being here.
Unknown Speaker 5:50
Thank you. We're glad to be here as well. Yeah. Thanks so much,
Unknown Speaker 5:52
Stacey Simms 5:53
You got it. So Frank, let me start with you. If I could just, you know, to give us an overview a little bit. We've never talked before, if you could kind of catch me up on what Zealand is all about. And then we'll talk about Zegalogue.
Frank Sanders 6:05
Yeah, sure. Thank you for the question. I appreciate it, Stacy. So I'll start by saying that Zealand is a global biotechnology company and a world leader in peptide therapeutic development. Well, it may seem like a new company, the company was actually founded in 1998. It is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. And we have our US presence and our company in our corporate office in Boston in the seaport area. So the company has approximately 330 employees worldwide. And our we believe our distinguished advantage is our unique peptide platform that allows us to design and engineer highly innovative peptide and peptide like medicines for, you know, for multiple conditions. So we have a 20 year legacy in r&d and peptide therapeutics, and we're very proud of what we've delivered.
Stacey Simms 6:50
Can you take just a second and I when we hear peptide on this podcast, we just think about that C peptide test, right? That helps figure out if it's type one or type two diabetes, what does a peptide therapeutic be?
Dr. David Kendall 7:02
I'm happy to take that one. And Frank, please feel free to chime in. But Stacy, a peptide in the common ones that I'm sure this audience knows about are things like insulin, glucagon, or modifications there. But they are very simply the proteins. In the body peptides generally referred to proteins which are made up of these building blocks we call amino acids, usually up to 25 to 50 of these amino acid segments plugged together glucagon, which we'll be talking about today, and LC glucagon is made up of 37 of these building blocks. So peptides that are commonly known are just those proteins that circulate in the body or makeup, the structure of the body.
Stacey Simms 7:46
Alright, let's talk about Zegalogue. I think most of my listeners are familiar with the concept of needing emergency glucagon sometimes, but tell me the specifics about Zegalogue
Frank Sanders 7:56
So the clinical profile Zegalogue is compelling. And we are actually out in active dialogue with payers right now. And we have been in dialogue with healthcare professionals and patients around the profile through market research before we execute a full product launch following approval. And the approval of Zegalogue is based on the results from three randomized, double blind placebo controlled controlled phase three trials, that's a mouthful in both children and adults with type one diabetes. And what's marketed and notable about Zegalogue is the median time to blood blood glucose recovery of 10 minutes that we've seen across all three phase three trials. More specifically, in the phase three trials. 99% of adults recovered in 15 minutes in the main adult trial, and 95% of pediatric patients recovered and 15 minutes in the pediatric trials. So So we believe the dialogue offers patients and caregivers in an important new choice for the for the management of severe hypoglycemia, which is a condition where minutes obviously matter, so we're eager. So the launch the product, in just over a month and late June,
Stacey Simms 9:02
didn't take me into that study a little bit more in terms of how low people were, if you can share that.
Dr. David Kendall 9:09
Happy to do that, Stacy and as Frank mentioned, glucagon, the native peptide or protein that many people have known about, and I'm sure many of your listeners are familiar with has been around and available for treatments since the 1960s. But what Zegalogue and dasiglucagon the active molecule was able to do is make modifications in that peptide chain to ultimately lead to chemical that we felt was suitable for development that went through those clinical testing programs that Frank talked about, and specific to those trials to bring this forward as a medication that could be reviewed and approved for the treatment of severe little bunch of blood sugar, or what we call severe hypoglycemia required that in controlled fashion, taking volunteers, courageous and really volunteers to whom we are incredibly grateful to use an insulin infusion, so give insulin in their vein in a controlled way, bring their blood sugar below a specific level, usually that level is 70 milligrams per deciliter or lower, slightly higher in the studies with children, and do that in as controlled away as possible, then stop that infusion of insulin. And this is really meant Stacy to mimic what might happen in an unexpected, unanticipated severe low blood trigger event. And those individuals then are given a dose either of placebo medicine, or in the case of these studies, Sega log and its pre Approval Form dasiglucagon, and then in those same trials, not for direct comparison, but just to understand what the world was familiar with, we also gave selected individuals, the traditional glucagon from the emergency kit that many people may know, which is the one that requires that it be reconstituted, mixed up, drawn back up in a syringe and then given so the studies took experimental, low blood sugar, let's say on average, the value is just below 70. Got the dose of medication. And then we measured the so called time to recovery that Frank talked about which in all of these trials was how long it took to see that number no matter where it started to come up by 20 points. So a very consistent measure of recovery time. And as Frank said, the median time to recovery was 10 minutes across each of the three larger phase three trials. And you looked at the 15 minute time point, which is a very important one for watching loved ones recover and making sure that they either are responsive or another dose of medicine can be given 99% of adults, 95% of children had recovery
Unknown Speaker 11:55
in that time period.
Dr. David Kendall 11:56
So very important to understand how the trials were done. But ultimately, it led to our review and approval as a treatment for severe low blood sugar.
Stacey Simms 12:06
Wow, I appreciate you going through so thoroughly, I have a couple of questions, because I have a couple of friends who have gone through clinical trials for products like this. I don't know if they were specifically in this one. But as you said, You don't just sit there and say, Okay, give me all that insulin, no, I'm gonna go low. You know, we really have to thank those people. But you mentioned some of them got a placebo. So I know it was a safe environment. But what does that mean? Like they just sat there and went low for a while?
Frank Sanders 12:32
Yeah, I'm always amazed the Food and Drug Administration, their regulators are thoughtful and cautious about how these studies are designed, we are as well, in placebo, obviously, is done only in a controlled setting where we understand what the potential risks of giving, essentially, no therapy might be. But knowing that in these studies, as I said, Even though zega log is approved for the treatment of truly severe low blood sugar, these were not patients that lost consciousness couldn't manage for themselves, but in a controlled setting where we could give them an intravenous injection of glucose if we needed to, or ultimately rescue them with safety glucagon administration, these were individuals who had to understand that they were going to go low, probably feel something they felt before not necessarily feel comfortable, and then know that there was a chance they were getting just saltwater sailing, or potentially getting one of the other two therapies. And obviously, they were monitored very carefully. And we didn't allow this to go on, you know, indefinitely. They were ultimately treated either with glucose by vain or given something to eat.
Stacey Simms 13:42
I'm curious to, again, I appreciate you letting me go down this rabbit hole. There is an interesting conversation all the time in the diabetes community about letting those go. And I know some of you, as you listen gasped. But I mean, there are some times where you'll sleep through a low or you'll just won't notice although you know, you're 7075 and then you'll, you'll float back up because your liver has kicked in it. You know, I'm curious, I know, this wasn't what the study was designed to do. But was there any information from the placebo folks of them kind of recovering without treatment?
Right back to Dr. Kendall answering that question. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario. And the bottom line is you need a plan of action with diabetes. We've been lucky that Benny's endo has helped us with that and that he understands the plan has to change as Benny gets older, you want that kind of support. So take your diabetes management to the next level with Dario health. There are published Studies demonstrate high impact results for active users like improved in range percentage within three months reduction of a one c within three months and a 58% decrease in occurrences of severe hypoglycemic events. Try Dario’s diabetes success plan and make a difference in your diabetes management. Go to my dario.com forward slash diabetes dash connections. For more proven results and for information about the plan now back to Dr. Kendall, answering my questions about those that kind of resolve on their own.
Frank Sanders 15:13
So the the proportion of people who recovered with placebo therapy was extinguishing Lilo, I will say, at least in the 15 minutes time period, by 45 minutes, either they had recovered or we allowed them to recover. I know a bit more about this, because I spent my early years of research doing these experimental low blood sugar studies. And your comment about letting the logo is not something I certainly would advise as a health care professional, but it does happen. And the risks if it's not a severe low, are often you know, an inconvenience or disrupted sleep or in some cases, complete lack of awareness. The risk there, Stacy is any low blood sugar makes a subsequent low blood sugar more likely. And the typical symptoms and responses that the body has, will diminish when the body has seen multiple episodes of low blood sugar. It's as if the body's saying I've seen this before, I'm going to quit warning you and treating it. And that, as we've learned over time is one of the risk factors for an unexpected and more serious and severe hypoglycemic event. So I would not recommend letting the logo
Stacey Simms 16:24
be either, I want to be very clear. But it is something that is discussed. It's not as though that's something that to be very clear as you listen and to you all to, it wasn't something I said in that I endorse it. It's just that it does happen. And we see that sometimes you don't treat a low and sometimes it bounces back. So I didn't mean to imply that we should be twiddling our thumbs while our kids are low.
Dr. David Kendall 16:48
Right? And you're absolutely right, the body does maintain some of those defenses as ecolog. What we're talking about here is there for those circumstances where the defenses are no longer adequate, someone loses consciousness, the ability to care for themselves. Alright,
Stacey Simms 17:05
let's let's get back on track here. Again, thanks for following me down that rabbit hole. And I'm always fascinated by studies and the process. Frank, let me ask you what so what is this is tell me a little bit about the product itself because we have other products on the market. Now you mentioned already the rescue kit that needs to be reconstituted, there's a nasal spray, there's a shot.
Frank Sanders 17:22
Now this was this is so second log is indicated for the treatment of severe hypoglycemia, and pediatric and adult hit and adult patients with diabetes. Ages, six years and above, we're going to be launching it with two forms available. We're one of those is going to be an auto injector a single dose auto injector and the other will be a single dose prefilled syringe, but both of which can be used immediately without requiring reconstitution that may allow for easier use at that moment when it's needed. And so you know, that really at a basic level, that's that's core to what what Zegalogue is. And we again, believe that based on the clinical study that David David has talked about the study data all three is that what distinguishes like a log is really the the median time to recovery of 10 minutes across all clinical trials and the consistency of response rates and adults in pediatric patients again, referring back to the data that David presented. So we're eager to introduce this product again and a couple short weeks here and offer this begin to offer this to patients and caregivers alike.
Stacey Simms 18:25
shelf life, you know, do I need to put in the fridge? Can you speak to that?
Frank Sanders 18:28
Very good question. So I'll talk a little bit about the storage and stability and David if I if there are details to add, please add but Zegalogue has a three year total shelf life when stored in refrigerated conditions in once removed from refrigerated conditions that can be kept at room temperature for up to 12 months. So stability and storage conditions of Zegalogue provide for options for people with diabetes, you're at risk of severe hypoglycemia to have this available at home, you know, in the refrigerated conditions for up to three years or out of you know, refrigerated conditions, either at home or away from home for up to a year and event that it's needed. So we believe that these dual storage conditions will be attractive to the lifestyle of patients with diabetes
Stacey Simms 19:12
couple of years ago, gosh, was it ready for the pandemic It must have been in the fall of 2019. So not too long ago, I ran into Ed Damiano of beta bionics and asked him you know what's going on? How are things and you know, they've got their own, we're actually talking to them in a couple of weeks. So let's talk about this as well. But my understanding correct me if I'm wrong, is that this is the brand of glucagon that they want to put in the dual hormone pump down the line. I don't know how much anyone can speak to any of this. So feel free to say no, because I know it's it's not coming. Now, this is not what we're talking about here To be clear, but this is one of the most anticipated developments in pump therapy. And I'm curious, can you speak to this is that correct?
Frank Sanders 19:57
Well, let me tell you this and then David, you could you can add to this as well. as you see fit, but yes, I mean that's a glucagon we consider this a platform therapy, you know. So obviously we're launching dasiglucagon in the form of Zegalogue as a rescue therapy for severe hypoglycemia. But it's the first of a long string of other potential launches with dasiglucagon. In the future you had mentioned, the partnership that we have in place with beta bionics that what I will say is that it's a great partnership, we're very pleased with the progress that we're making with this program, as we near the initiation of phase three trials. And so you know, everything is really moving forward at a steady rate there with that partnership. And we also have the David can touch on as well with dasiglucagon a program and place for use in congenital hyper and hyper insulin emia as well. So so the product itself is being studied for multiple applications to benefit multiple patients, not just with severe hypoglycemia, but with other with other specialty and rare disease areas. So it's just the beginning, if you will, it's like a log is this really the beginning for the use of the molecule much, much more to come over the next three to five years. Like Frank said, we're
Dr. David Kendall 21:05
really excited to be in the partnership with beta bionics I had in his team dasiglucagon is the platform and that Frank described, we see it as helping us leverage opportunities across what we call the hypoglycemic spectrum. So testing it, we hope in weeks and months ahead in phase three in the bio hormonal we call it artificial pancreas, the bionic pancreas, with beta bionics, but also for other hypoglycemic disorders, some in the setting of diabetes, like small doses that may be used for exercise or during illness, where it's not an emergency situation, all of these are planned investigations, but not yet part of the approved use of Zegalogue. Similarly, the condition, Frank alluded to congenital hyperinsulinism, where children are born with the dysregulated continuous secretion of insulin, so it's not diabetes, but they suffer recurrent and significant hypoglycemia, then there are very limited therapies. Thankfully, it's an ultra rare disease, but one that is really want for better therapies. And similarly, there are other health conditions where unexpected low blood sugars occur outside of the setting of diabetes. And we think because of some of the unique characteristics that deci glucagon has the stability at room temperature that it can and we hope will be applied, certainly in clinical studies, we hope in the future for patients with some of those conditions.
Stacey Simms 22:38
So it's interesting a couple of weeks ago, maybe a couple months ago, now we spoke to Leo Brown, who was on The Amazing Race, we will he lives with diabetes, I guess, but he has congenital hyperinsulinism. And his they basically removed most of his pancreas. And is that the kind of thing you're talking about where this would be an alternative treatment for somebody like that, perhaps?
Frank Sanders 22:57
Precisely. And so that's one of the approaches, historically to this condition, congenital hyperinsulinism was to remove the offending organ, the pancreas, which, as you witnessed, will leave somebody living with insulin deficient diabetes, so a form of type 1 diabetes that's surgically induced, but it was one of the only available therapies, we feel like that see, glucagon. And other approaches can counteract that hyperinsulinism, particularly in the youngest children, where there are the greatest dangers for these low blood sugars. And we hope either limit the need obviate the need for surgical interventions, and add to the tools that pediatricians in particular can use to manage this incredibly challenging disease.
Stacey Simms 23:45
And just back if I could to beta bionics, can you share anything about Gosh, I feel like we've just been waiting for this for a very long time. In terms of how it works. I know that, again, that's in clinical trials coming up. So you can't talk about a lot, but I'm just trying to picture what I you know, we fill the insulin pump with insulin, then we just fill the other chamber with the gun. I mean, it just to me seems so revolutionary. I'm trying to kind of parse any information that you can share with us.
Dr. David Kendall 24:10
Yeah, it's you're spot on Stacy. It's basically a two chamber pump. So think of how current insulin pumps are programmed. And in fact, with the hybrid closed loop systems, they were tied to continuous glucose monitoring to adjust the insulin delivery and those systems that have that capability. Add to that the same sort of functionality, but with glucagon, or in this case, dasiglucagon infusion that is regulated by the pump and by the glucose measurements. So with insulin being one side of that equation, when glucose does go lower, instead of simply shutting off the insulin and waiting for it to clear from the system, you have counterbalance, or the ability to counter regulate with the glucagon infusion and small little delivery boluses just Like insulin does for higher glucose is so similar to and in fact managed in much the same way as the insulin infusion for high glucose. The glucagon chamber and infusion wouldn't give those doses as glucose values declined, or were at certain levels,
Stacey Simms 25:15
if they're a second inset on the body for that I can't imagine goes to the same inset as the insulin.
Dr. David Kendall 25:21
Yeah, so So all of that is part of the development process. Obviously, these are two separate hormones. And one of the components of dasiglucagon, as Frank talked about is it's, it's stable in this so called aqueous solution, which for you will need that saltwater, the things that circulate in the body. So you know, while in theory, they could come through the same system, the plans in place, and the previous studies have been done with two separate fusion sites. But again, connected to the same pump system. So yeah, there's some sophistication involved. And I think back to pre CGM, when people said I have to wear this device now people often do quite well wearing two devices, their CGM and their pump. So depending on the ultimate design and approach to this, we certainly see the clinical promise as being something that's very encouraging. And then overcoming those engineering and technical challenges will be part of what faces our team with the beta bionics team. Really interesting. I
Stacey Simms 26:22
can't wait to talk to them to to get more information. Thanks for sharing what you could I appreciate? Absolutely. Let's talk about cost and access. What is this going to cost? I mean, I know that a lot of it depends on insurance. You started out by saying you were talking to payers, it's so sad that that's the first thing we have to talk about.
Frank Sanders 26:38
That's a good, it's a good question. These are obviously obviously amongst the first questions we always get when we're launching any product. So so we our strategy, from a pricing perspective, is the price Zegalogue at parity meaning add or are the same as existing products on the market? And we've based this strategy really on the value that psychologic provides? I think you're the bigger question is, is it going to be accessible for patients at launch. And you know, and really, that's, that's the reason why we are out actively engaging managed care customers today, both at payers and pbms, and Medicaid providers. And so I'll share that the the conversations have been have been very good that the profile Tagalog is being received very favorably, and we do expect to have favorable accesses, that is ecolog. At launch, that will continue to build as with any new product launch that will continue to build and improve over the first six months of launch. And I think as as you know, Stacey, from our conversations a little bit earlier, as I'm a caregiver myself, in my in my life, my my wife is been, you know, suffering for from stage four cancer for a number of years, and she's doing doing very well. But we we every day, interact with the healthcare system, and really have to think through barriers to access, whether that those are financial barriers or barriers to delivery of the product through specialty pharmacies, and we are really designing our patient support capability at Zealand. With that in mind, meaning, how do we make sure that when we're launching a product, we're able to provide the resources and forms of financial assistance and other resources to help address any sort of access barriers that may exist. So so there's really don't become transparent, so do we, so to speak, or, or, or a barrier for patients. And it's not just things like financial assistance, we are also putting programs in place to be able to make access easy in terms of product acquisition and distribution, for example, by looking at at home delivery solutions and other things so so we really are going to roll out a patient support system that is really fit for launching a product like this, in this error today where we also have to worry about COVID. So we're ready to go on all fronts in that area.
Stacey Simms 28:50
And we'll link up information as it comes out on patients assistance and access and things like that. But I'm always curious. And I I know the US health system is very complex. But why budget parity, why not launch and say we're gonna be $30? Less? How come nobody ever launches and says we're gonna come out and we're gonna make it affordable out of the box?
Frank Sanders 29:09
Yeah, I mean, we we look very carefully at multiple different pricing options and research it very carefully before we make a decision around it. And the price that we choose, really any company chooses. But in this case, I'll just talk about what Zealand does is the one that we that we think is going to ensure that we are going to get the best access possible for the product at a price point that that is representative of the value, the clinical value that the product brings to the market and that and that really led us to a parody pricing strategy, not a premium pricing strategy, not a discounting strategy, but one that is at parity with the rest of the market. And you know, again, based on the feedback that we've had in advance of setting the price and after setting the price and discussing with managed care organizations, we feel that we got it right.
Stacey Simms 29:56
Yeah, but you didn't get that from patients with all due respect. I can't imagine a patient said that's the right price.
Frank Sanders 30:01
Well, I think if we ask anyone, any consumer about about the price of the medicine, you know, the will will always get the response of, can we why that can cannot be lower? Can it be lower? That's absolutely fair.
Stacey Simms 30:14
Before I let you go, as I was looking through everybody's bio here, David, I can't let you go without asking you about the diabetes control and complications trial and the edic trial, I love to talk about these studies. I have I talked to a lot of parents whose children have been diagnosed, you know, recently, I run a very large Facebook group for Charlotte, North Carolina area. And I always say like, you've got to look at these these amazing trials that were done years ago, that show how much better things are getting. And I would love to just, I don't even know what I want to ask you. But I would love to give you the floor to just say that we didn't even know that a one c mattered, we didn't know the control made a difference. And to me, the edic trial is the one that shows me how much things are getting better. I do my right on any of that.
Dr. David Kendall 30:59
And well, you're talking to a very biased audience of one in me. So I grew up in the dcct edic era, I started in diabetes research in 1981, just as dcct was kicking off. So I've been either close to or seeing patients in dcct edic, through its entire history. And we're now 40 years out from the start of that trial. And yes, absolutely. These are 14 141 of the most courageous, incredible people who committed literally decades of their life to helping us understand what benefits may come from improving glucose control, particularly early on in the course of type 1 diabetes. And what I love is that many of these are patients I know to this day who are celebrating their 17th and 18th birthdays, I'm in the setting of type 1 diabetes. And unequivocally dcct, in my mind is one of the 10 great research studies in medicine, it demonstrated the benefit of having blood sugars as well controlled as possible, as early in the course of diabetes as possible. and maintaining that for as long a period as possible that I always catch that by saying, you know doing it as rationally and safely as possible. And what we're talking about here today, meaning severe hyperglycemia was first really made evident to us in the dcct. where, you know, on average, every patient had a severe event per year during the study, because we were working so hard to control glucose. So it ties back to our topic. And yeah, for the next three and a half hours of this podcast. I'd be happy to add more if you'd like. Frank will never invite me back. So
Stacey Simms 32:48
Oh, no, no. Okay, wait, one more question about the dcct edic. Is there a follow up? Will we get another one of all these people soon? Or is it kind of
Dr. David Kendall 32:58
it continues to this day, and there are various components to it, it is much less thorough and intensive in terms of the follow up, but the 30 and soon 40 year follow up of those patients has been and will be published and presented as the years go ahead. So this is the study that probably will only end when we run out of investigators and individual volunteers for the study.
Stacey Simms 33:26
I gotta say I look at those studies. And I'm so glad you mentioned the brave and wonderful people in them. Because that has my son was diagnosed right where he turned to 14 years ago. And what they have done, has changed his outcome. It's just fabulous. So thank them next time you see I'm telling Stacy and Charlotte. Before we finish it, was there anything about that video segment that we didn't cover?
Dr. David Kendall 33:48
Yeah, I'll close and then toss it back to Frank. But I think one of the things that first attracted me to Zealand but also the work around Zegalogue is that hyperglycemia really remains one of those conundrums, one of the rate limiting features of managing diabetes most effectively, and bringing forth the two legs Zegalogue to help patients have the peace of mind make a plan for when the unthinkable might happen, a severe event. And doing so with the data that we've talked about where you have this very rapid and reliable response to Desi glucagon and the clinical trials for this, like many other emergency therapies, you don't want to have it, but you certainly want it on hand if you need it. So all of that, to me is central to what we're doing, not just with the clinical studies, but with the clinical launch of Zegalogue.
Frank Sanders 34:43
Now very good. I would just just close by saying what excites us about this launch in particular, is that there are 4 million people in the United States with diabetes on multiple daily injections of insulin and these patients are at higher risk of having severe hypoglycemic event. And despite the fact that there are 4 million people in the US with diabetes on on multiple daily doses, only approximately 14% of that population is prescribed a glucagon rescue therapy. So So what's been interesting is and positive is this is with the introduction of newer innovative therapies over the last year and a half, two years, more people are becoming aware of these treatment options, and the market is growing by by 10%. And we believe that that's really just the beginning is the you know, having Zegalogue in the market, that's yet another innovative option has the ability to further grow this by increasing awareness. And we're excited about the positive impacts effect that will have on patients and their caregivers.
Stacey Simms 35:44
Well, Frank Sanders, Dr. David Kendall, thank you so much for joining me and explaining all this. I really appreciate you spending so much time with me. Thank you.
You're listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 36:02
I will link up more information about Zegalogue. And about the DCCT EDIC trials as well. And if you haven't heard our episode, evidence-based hope, I highly, highly, highly recommend it, especially for newer diagnosed people and families. It's not just a look how far we've come kind of thing. But it also puts in perspective, a one see numbers, things right now that you can do to live a long and healthy life with diabetes. And it doesn't mean that you need to always have you know, a super low A1C I think especially as parents, we often lose track of the happy, good life thriving with diabetes, because we're so focused on getting that that time and range and those super low a one season those trials really put it in perspective for me, and what you need to really live well. And it's not what a lot of people on Facebook, what have you believe in just a second, I want to give you an update on how Benny's doing and wrestling has started. And oh my goodness,
but first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. And it really is hard to remember what things were like before we started using Dexcom. I had a woman asked me what was our plan for kindergarten. And we were still a good four or five years away from Dexcom at that point, so it's really interesting to look back because it is so different. Now we were doing something like 10 finger sticks a day when Benny was going to kindergarten. I mean, even when he got older, we still did at least six to eight every day more when he wasn't feeling well or something was off. But with each iteration of Dexcom we've done fewer and fewer sticks. The latest generation the Dexcom g six eliminates finger sticks for calibration and diabetes treatment decisions. Just thinking about Benny's little worn out fingertips makes me so glad that Dexcom has helped us come so far. It's an incredible tool and Benny's fingertips are healthy and smooth, which I never thought would happen when he was in kindergarten. He for glucose alerts and readings from the G6 do not make symptoms or expectations. Use a blood glucose meter to make diabetes treatment decisions. learn more, go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Dexcom logo.
Aren't if you've been listening for a long time or you follow me on social media, then you know that Benny is finishing up his sophomore year in high school and he started wrestling when he was a freshman he got injured right at the beginning of the season. He tore his meniscus. And he was out for the 2020 season, which was right before COVID. They were able to get a full season in and he was part of the team. He was like manager and he went on crutches to every match. And he was pretty incredible season they won the state championships for the first time. It was just a really fun year, but he had to sit on the sidelines. So that was kind of a bummer. But he is back. He's worked really, really hard. And of course with COVID they kept putting off the season. And we always thought there is absolutely no way there's going to be wrestling. So he actually went out and got a job. I've mentioned before he got his vaccine, he's at a grocery store. And he's been working really hard. And so when wrestling came back, it was kind of a tough decision to make. But he was able to work it out with his work schedule. And this kid is so busy, and they had their very first match.
As you're listening it would be last week. So Benny had his very first you know, match. But that's not the story. I want to tell you what was amazing. And by the way, I can't watch wrestling. Do you watch wrestling if your kids wrestle? I can't watch any sport my kids play because I'm the loud mouth mom. So I'm always the one like trying to look at her phone. So I'm not screaming I'm not being rude. I'm not not paying attention. But I'm shockingly I have comments. So I try to keep them to myself. But wrestling is just so gross. It's so rough. I can't stand it. But they come out on the mat and the ref comes out and he's like you know our loved ones with clean Theodora and I'm looking at the ref and I immediately Look at his belt line because there's a T slim pump. He's wearing a T slim next to you know, it's right on his back. And I was sitting very close. So part of me wanted to yell like, excuse me. Hello, sir. But I didn't do anything. I didn't say anything. I did take a couple of pictures which was probably very inappropriate, this poor man, but I couldn't help myself. It was so exciting. They faced two different schools. So it was the match that He was in and then there was another match. They didn't wrestle in, and my daughter had just come home from college. So after that first match, I said goodbye. I said, Okay, if I go and I left, I went home because my daughter, Lea, I haven't seen her in a while. So I wanted to run home to her. And I couldn't talk to the ref, because he went from one match. Immediately, he crossed the gym and went to the other match. Then he came over to kind of talk to me as I was leaving, and I told him and I, you know, it wasn't sure if he'd be like, Mom, it's so lame. You know, who cares. But he lit up, he was excited, and he wants to go say hi, but it was just such a busy night. And these reps are just working, working, working that, you know, as I said, I didn't get a chance to talk to him, but he didn't get a chance to talk to him. So I'm hoping that we see him again, as these wrestling matches go on. But hey, if you're listening ref in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, drop me a line. And thank you very much for not noticing the bananas lady behind you taking pictures of your back.
Before I let you go quick note I will be speaking at the camp Nejeda event survive and thrive. That is on June 5. It's a virtual event. We are looking forward to friends for life in July, I will be there I'm not sure in what capacity as a speaker yet waiting to hear from them. Because it's very different this year, far fewer speakers, but I will be there as a vendor. So I hope I can meet at least some of you. And please join me tomorrow. If you're listening as this first drops on Wednesday, May 12, as I'm doing every Wednesday in May 4:30pm. Eastern on my Facebook page Diabetes Connections i will be doing in the news, my newscast that I'm trying out and then we'll turn that around and drop it as podcast episode. They're very short. My goal is to make them not only less than 10 minutes, hopefully less than eight or seven minutes. I'm really trying to keep it very tight and just have some headlines. But the top stories of the past week, all types of diabetes really be useful for you to make it bite size make it relevant. So let me know what you think. Thank you, as always to my editor John Bukenas from audio editing solutions. Thank you so much for listening. I'm Stacey Simms. I'll see you back here in just a couple of days. Until then, be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All rounds avenged
Ben West was a key organizer and architect of Nightscout and OpenAPS software. Even after all of the DIY and commercial development of the last ten years, he says we've barely scratched the surface of removing the mental and physical burdens from people with diabetes. Among those burdens, he says, is what he calls the onus to bolus - the responsibilities of diabetes that even the most advanced current software can't totally relieve.
Ben is now the CEO at Medical Data Networks which has launched its first venture: T1 Pal.
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Episode Transcription (rough draft) below
Stacey Simms 0:00
Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario health manage your blood glucose levels increase your possibilities Gvoke Hypopen the first premixed auto injector for very low blood sugar, and by Dexcom take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with Dexcom.
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms
Stacey Simms 0:26
this week talking to someone who is deeply technical, but also deeply thoughtful, who has been an incredible part of the Do It Yourself movement over the last 10 or more years. But who says we've barely scratched the surface of removing the burdens mental and physical from people with diabetes. So welcome to another week of the show. We aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin. I am Stacey Simms. And yes, this show is already a little different sounding here at the top no big intro or tease. And that's because my interview with Ben West is massive. It is very long. It is the longest one I have done so far on this show. But it is well worth your time.
I am so excited to bring you this interview with Ben Ben West was a key organizer and architect of the Nightscout and open APS software. He is now the CEO at medical data networks which has launched its first venture T1Pal, I think Ben influenced or work with or sometimes both just about every person I've talked to under the we are not waiting umbrella. And if you're not familiar with that, if this is your first episode, welcome, but we are not waiting is kind of the rallying cry that became a hashtag back in 2013. And if you are new, I use it as a keyword you can search for it all one word, we are not waiting over at Diabetes connections.com and see every episode that has featured those incredible do it yourself, people the community that really rallied together and push the technology side of diabetes forward, I believe many many years ahead where it would have been otherwise, as I said, it is a very long interview. But you know, it's a podcast, listen in chunks. Stop, start, you know, however you want to do it. But please, I really hope you'll listen to Ben because he has so much story to tell and a lot of thoughts on how diabetes care really needs to improve.
In the short time since I spoke to Ben, there has been a bit of a discussion within the Nightscout group about his business. It is part of an ongoing debate about the future of Nightscout and the future of open source in type one, Ben has the full support of the night scout foundation. In fact, they sent out an email on that and some other issues. And I will link to that in the show notes. I think it's a very good read. In addition to touching on this issue, it is a great way to catch up on what's going on in that space. So we'll get to Ben West in just a moment.
But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you buy Gvoke Hypopen . And you know when you have diabetes and use insulin, low blood sugar can happen when you don't expect it. That's why most of us carry fast acting sugar and in the case of very low blood sugar, why we carry emergency glucagon, there's a new option called Gvoke Hypopen, the first auto injector to treat very low blood sugar. Gvoke Hypopen is pre mixed and ready to go with no visible needle in usability studies. 99% of people were able to give Gvoke correctly find out more go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Gvoke logo Gvoke shouldn't be used in patients with pheochromocytoma or insulinoma visit Gvoke glucagon.com slash risk. And this is a good time to remind you that this podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
Ben, it's great to talk to you. Thanks so much for jumping on and sharing some time with me and my listeners.
Ben West 3:55
Oh, thank you, Stacey. I'm happy to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
Stacey Simms 3:59
I'm not even sure where to start. I have so many questions I want to ask you and there's so much history here. So maybe we just start if you don't mind. Back in college when you were diagnosed. You were student right? You were young adult.
Ben West 4:12
Yeah, I was a college student when I was diagnosed and I had all the classic symptoms where I you know, I was going to the bathroom a lot and just didn't know what was happening. My diagnosis story is I went through this for probably a week and one night I realized I had gone to the bathroom like seven times in the one night and I realized that means if that's once an hour like what sleep did I get last night. I'm nowhere near eight hours of sleep. This seems like a serious problem. So I went to a health clinic in my college town. And they said well, you're a skinny young adult, so we don't know what's going on with you. Maybe you did eat something and you didn't tell us I wasn't eating anything either. And they sent me home with some pills and said call us in two weeks. Someone through the grapevine heard that that didn't sound quite right actually came and interrupted one of my music lessons and said, you know, you need to go to the hospital there. Oh, wow, they're expecting you there. So I went to the hospital, and they checked me in over the weekend and diagnosed diagnosed me with type one. Wow,
Stacey Simms 5:13
you were lucky, right? Lucky that they interrupted your lesson there.
Ben West 5:16
Yeah, you know, I mean, I've heard a lot of stories during the work that I do. And yes, as diagnosis stories go that I you know, that's pretty mild. Yeah,
Stacey Simms 5:26
I guess I should ask you some technical questions from the very beginning. What were you using? I assume that in 2003, you didn't immediately start tinkering with an insulin pump. Right? You You went on a more traditional routine at the start?
Ben West 5:38
Well, I actually had to drive 45 minutes to clinic and Little Rock house in a different part of Arkansas going to college. And I had to drive 45 minutes to get to an endocrinologist and the endocrinologist at that time that I thought I was lucky to be getting into the specialist where they actually deal with, they actually specialize in diabetes here. And I met with the nurse, the PA, and the representative from Medtronic was actually in the room. They actually said, You seem like a smart young lad, we'd like to get you out a pump as soon as possible. And it turned out as soon as possible was like nine, you know, nine months later. So I went through the whole syringes and shots and meters and got on the on the pump. But at that time, they actually told me Yeah, the benefit of going on the pump is dispenses insulin automatically. And in the future, we're going to have CGM. There's some CGM already in the works. Those will be here sometime. And then when you get the CGM and the pump combined, it does like all these things together, right, like so I understood right away what they're talking about in that office very early on. Okay, you got you can measure glucose, and you got this pump. And in theory, it should be doing all of these things together. At that time, they even said, You know what, they even have a patient in California right now, it's got a fully implanted version. So sometime in the next five years, we're gonna have a fully implanted CGM insulin pump combo, it'll do all the work for you. This is all just temporary. That's what they told me.
Stacey Simms 7:01
2003 Yeah, just to be clear, though, Ben, the Medtronic rep was in the room with you at your doctor's appointment?
Ben West 7:09
Yeah. Wow. You had some introduction? I was actually I was glad they were honestly, that certainly seemed to be the, you know, take these pills and call us in two weeks approach.
Stacey Simms 7:20
Sure. Yeah. It also beats a bunch of other people who had their doctor say five years to a cure. I mean, yeah, you know, there's a lot of really bad ways to be diagnosed and to have those first conversations, but man, that's fascinating. Who was the person in California who had an implanted pump and CGM? What was this like, fantasy made up? No,
Ben West 7:39
I think I know, I believe him. I, I've toured the Medtronic facilities, again, during the work that I do, and they've invited me over, and they have a hallway of all kinds of awesome stuff that, you know, never made it to market or, you know, there's a lot of cool things that go on behind the doors. I'm still using a 515. I think that was in 2008. So certainly, I I'm a big believer in what they do. There is a lot of potential that I think is clearly been untapped behind this technology.
Stacey Simms 8:12
So fast forward nine months, you jump on to your insulin pump. It's not hooked up with a CGM. At the time I would assume.
Ben West 8:19
No, it the CGM didn't exist yet. Yeah, it wasn't on the market. Yeah.
Stacey Simms 8:23
What was your experience? Like with the pump?
Ben West 8:25
Oh, it's okay. It's fine. I preferred it to the shots. But everything's got trade offs. Right. I had at the time I, you know, was going in or wasn't music major. And I so I had performances that are assessed as part of my official grade. And, you know, I'd go in for these performances, and some one of the teachers would tell me hide that thing. You know, they had wires hanging out, right? And I told him, you know, I'm not trying to hide anything, I shouldn't have to hide it. And he told me, You shouldn't show it off. I thought, wow, here I am going for a performance. And that's, that's the last thing I want to be thinking about right now. Sheesh,
Stacey Simms 9:00
did you win that fight? Or did they make you hide it?
Ben West 9:03
If you're a college student working for a grade? Yeah, you're gonna, you're gonna put it away real fast, right? I mean, that's terrible.
Stacey Simms 9:11
What made you start thinking about tinkering with stuff? Because you started doing that on your own is my understanding, right? This was before you met a lot of people in the community that you started, I don't want to say taken apart, I'll let you tell the story. But you started doing this stuff in 2008 2009,
Ben West 9:28
the winter of 2009 into 2010. I remember that's when I started with a different focus. Actually, I don't know if you've talked to Scott hanselman at all, but he's, he's known. He's known for saying that every person with diabetes ever, right? The first thing they do is they start working on on something less less than the burdens here. And actually, that was true, right? As I was diagnosed, I had some experience as a computer science minor with some programming, and often my side projects, and I remember I built a dashboard. Actually, in 2003, right after I was diagnosed, that allowed me to enter in all the information into a database, right? Because I was walking around with, you know, three by five index cards, trying to write down all these carbohydrates and insulin injections. And it was getting really tedious. But I did that for years with pen and paper and pencil. And I thought, surely, why are the doctors giving me a hand drawn curves on napkins? Like, what is that about? Why are they sketching on these pieces of paper and the way that they were explaining this to me in the hospital, I thought they were going to show me a full on simulation that showed how my body was working. I've been watching too much Star Trek.
Stacey Simms 10:44
Well, you know, I'm with you. We expected things like that, too. When you said you made the dashboard. What did you use for the interface? Was it computer was it?
Ben West 10:53
Yeah, it was this was before web 2.0. This was all PHP and HTML. And I realized I was horrified. At the result, I realized I was never going to use it. It was a wall of inputs, where it's just like tons of inputs. And I wrote for times, and dates and readings. And I realized there's no way I'm going to use that. Look at it. Why would anyone use that. That's why I'm going to use pen and papers, because they're the software for this is very difficult. Then web 2.0 happened, there's a bunch of things in the 2000s, as we approached into 2010, that I, you know, I graduated school, I got into industry moved to San Francisco, the hardest Silicon Valley doing, you know, web dashboards for companies, professionally, where we're really solving people's problems where if you have this complicated problem, you can share the link with a view of that problem, and the tools for solving that problem with someone else. And that ability to share that link made the possibility for solving problems collaboratively possible in new ways, transformative ways that really fundamentally change the workflow for solving problems. So that idea really got into my head professionally, as we kind of approached 2009 in 2010. I had tried my first CGM about five years later, right, so around 2008. And the experience with that CGM was was not great. I had to go through insurance, right, they said, I had to get a new insulin pump to get to the integrated system that would read onto the insulin pump. The insurance said, we're not going to pay for that for this new one. And not only that, but according to our policy, you should never have gotten one. So that seems like an issue. Yeah. So it took us It took another nine months, right. And, you know, it goes to the appeals board. And the appeals board comes back and says no insurance, you should, you know, that's medically necessary, she should pay for it. So I finally got the pump in the CGM. And like a lot of people that I see on social media that are excited by the promise of the benefits of this new technology, I tried to really make it work for me, right, I got all the glue out. Skin all louder than the adhesive and I got the I got it covered, right with all the contact stuff. And then I'm going out for yoga, right and it's hot, and I'm doing you know, bendy stuff. And you know, you take off your shirt is a lot of people do. And then you're in a shirt, you realize you're the only one with like all this stuff. And it's like, it's not just one thing, it's the air, you got your pump over there. And he got your CGM patch over here. And it's like, it's not working out like at night. It's itchy. You know, it tickles. Except it's not tickle, it's you realize it's, it's itchy. And then you realize to your heart that that's actually the chemical burn that's happening with adhesive in your skin. And then the things alarming and I'm getting sick of the readings, I get data, what they call data overload, right where it says 240. And I feel like you know, I don't feel very good. And I take a bunch of insulin. And then, you know, an hour later says, well, you're 230 or whatever. So I don't like that. I still don't like that. So I'm going to take even more insulin. And then yeah, three hours later, you know, your doubt at 60. And the things reading 110. Right. And, you know, you're really not feeling good. This thing, made my life a mess. And I decided I'm gonna have to quit. And I was horrified that I was not going to use this thing that I had gone through so much effort to get to this point to be able to use it and that I wasn't going to get any benefits out of it. And the slap in the face for me as someone that was working on these on these systems of systems that were connected through the internet, and seeing the innovation take off and seeing the technology transform, collaborative decision making. The slap in the face for me was that this data was stuck on this little two inch display in my pocket. And there was like there was no way to get that data where other people could see it or like my doctor could see it where like app developers could put it into the simulator and make a simulator if one was missing, and 2009 and 2010 that really didn't sit with me anymore. So I thought apparently I have some skills here. And, you know, maybe I should try applying them just to see if I can get a time series. You know, wouldn't that be neat? If I can just get a little time series, you know, off the device that I use? Wouldn't that be kind of neat?
Stacey Simms 15:11
All right, I'm gonna stop you there. But as the time series,
Ben West 15:14
just the normal chart that we see where we've got data points along some time. So you've got three hours of time on the chart, just like we see with any other glucose traces data, you've got one dot every five minutes. And that happens, because you get every dot that you see is one of those data points. If you can get a bunch of data points over time, you can generate that time series.
Stacey Simms 15:37
Now I know a lot happened, you know, in those years between 2008 or 2009. And then 2013, when you started a tight pool, can you take us a little bit through that time, how you met people how you got connected with the diabetes community?
Right back to Ben answering that question. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario. Health. And you know, one of the things that makes diabetes management difficult for us that really annoys me and Benny isn't actually the big picture stuff. It's all the little tasks adding up. Are you sick of running out of strips, do you need some direction or encouragement going forward with your diabetes management with visibility into your trends help you on your wellness journey? The Daario diabetes success plan offers all of that and more No more waiting in line at the pharmacy no more searching online for answers. No more wondering about how you're doing with your blood sugar levels. Find out more go to my Dario comm forward slash diabetes dash connections. Now back to Ben answering my question about how we found and got connected with the diabetes community.
Ben West 16:48
I need to get more serious about my problem solving. And that means if I want to help, as soon as it seems to get a lot of ground to cover, so if I need help, I need to ask a well formed questions in a targeted way. And I thought, you know, if I need help, the people that can help me are probably other people with diabetes. And so I started looking around on all kinds of social media, I was on to diabetes, for the really early platforms, and several others, there's diabetes has that and there was there are a couple of organizations before Twitter was even really becoming popular. So I kind of reached out on some of those and found some people disagreed with the things that I was expressing they, some people thought that I should just feel grateful for the devices that I had.
Stacey Simms 17:28
I remember this, there was a lot of movement at that time, because I was on some of those boards to where it was, Hey, you know, it's it's okay for now. Like it's better than it was we're not testing with urine. We're not doing right. We're things are changing. Why do you want so much data? He was an interesting time. I didn't mean to interrupt you. But I remember that.
Ben West 17:47
Yeah. It's interesting that for you to say that, thank you for remembering that that really puzzled me. It emphasized for me How important was to frame the right questions. Partly because of that those disputes, I started really focusing on the advocacy of data access. And that became my touchstone issue. Well, up until very recently, I would say, well, I've shifted recently towards embracing language matters a bit more. One of the things I've learned over the last 10 years, I think, is that language matters. And in this data access issue, are actually the same issues with the same solutions. And we will get into that. But
Stacey Simms 18:23
yeah, we'll definitely talk about that. And just trying to, you know, to kind of get the timeline here, but yeah, so you, you've got this really interesting movement within the community, but it's a small part of the community. As I said, I was there. I don't think I grasped it at all. I mean, I had a little kid, my son was a toddler at the time, you know, he was diagnosed in 2006. So I was getting into all of this, but I was definitely more of the rah rah cheerleader, kind of let's do the Big Blue test. If you remember to diabetes, you probably remember that rather than how can I free the data because we didn't have a Dexcom or a CGM for many years.
Ben West 18:53
So at that time, right at the time, I was already familiar with things that have happened in the tech world, the things that, you know, the worldwide web, the web technology that we use, has gone through this where there's lots of companies involved, some of them compete. And in fact, I remember on one of my job interviews, I was shocked to hear the interviewer say, Oh, yeah, we're partners with the, you know, these other people. I said, Wait a minute, are they competitors for this other product? And they said, Yeah, you know, we compete and we cooperate. We do both, you know, it's not, it wasn't an issue in other industries. And somehow innovation that that's unlocked. Now, we have finance, we have healthcare, we have every sector of life we do online now. And if you're not doing it online, it's because you're doing it on your mobile. And actually, it turns out that's done online also. Right, yeah. Behind the scenes. And so that's the same transformation that I saw happening everywhere, regardless of the problem space of even for the most complicated problem spaces. And so I knew that what we need the thing that made that possible on the web, and on the internet on the web, it was Use source. So any web browser that you have, there's a function where you can go in and edit. And you can say view source. And it shows you all of the source code that's used to present that web page for you. It turns out that that's a critical part of that innovation to market pipeline, because more people are able to access the data that makes the thing go, that DIY access, if you will, for the web, that view source that allows anyone to get access to it, that does a couple things. One is that it gives more people access to making things and that network connectivity is what allowed a lot of innovation that we see, in 2008. Nine, that's when I started talking about data 2010. And yeah, through 2013, I started to code switch, which means that I talked about data in the most austere terms possible, in order to attract those other folks that already understood how important that was. So that together with them, I could look to build this ecosystem so that people would start to get it, I knew that if we could deliver a couple of applications that utilize this open architecture, this open ecosystem, the feature set would grow, the popularity would grow. And that would start to shift the things that people were talking about that people would start to talk about, we want access to the data so that we can get things like this, we want access to the data so that we can have bring your own device, we want access to the data so that we can get these innovative systems on the market more quickly.
Stacey Simms 21:37
So put it in perspective for me if you could, one of the touchstones that I come back to again and again, is that D data meeting in 2013? That diabetes mind and Amy tendril put together where we are not waiting was written on the whiteboard. Where were you during that time?
Ben West 21:54
Yeah, I was in the room. There are about a dozen folks in the room. Sarah creepin. Was there a Jana Beck was there, Joyce Lee? Was there, Amy tedric was there? You know, Howard look was there late despereaux. Was there john kostik. And, you know, a bunch of Brandon arbeiter, a bunch of those core typu folks were there. The takeaway, as it's been said many times before, was, you know, john kostik, was there talking about how he had utilized this technology to get some benefits for his son, that was his big story was I really care about my son is my job to deliver these benefits, I'm going to do it somehow, whatever it takes, that's what I'm going to do. And Layne came along and said, You know, we've got this experience with operator fatigue, in control rooms with complex processes that never shut down. And here's the things that I've learned. And here's the display that I put together, and I call it nightscout. And this was before, what we now think of as nightscout didn't really exist. This was before that this was like when there were separate pieces, and like different projects, everyone was just blown away by nightscout. In particular, this idea of what john was doing, getting the data and what Lane was doing, having a really smart interface for it, that and having it operate in real time gave us a really crisp, clear vision of what are the kinds of benefits that we should be talking about that we should be expecting that we should be seeing in the next 12 to 18 months? What is it feasible to make technically. And it turns out some really cool things were technically feasible.
Stacey Simms 23:26
When I speak to people from the DIY movement, or you know, whatever you want to call it. When I talk to you folks, over time, I have learned never to really ask well, what do you do? Right? I know, it's very, very collaborative. And so I stopped asking that question. But I would like to know, if you don't mind, could you share kind of what you were working on? Well, that's
Ben West 23:47
first t data, I was tide pool had just gotten started. So I was actually employee, I was one of the very early employees tide pool. So I was working with tide pool as an engineer trying to launch the MVP, our very first shipping product, we were trying to get that up off the ground from prototype and into production. So I was spending a lot of time on that. On my own time, I was spending a lot of time you know, the reverse engineering stuff, I was spending a lot of time really focusing on on Medtronic pumps, I realized that there were a bunch of devices. And I thought about the network of each kind of device needing some code to work with it. And I had a piece of code for every type of device. And so I was focused kind of on that making sure that I was framing Well, well formed questions, putting them out there saying here's a project just to talk to the Omnipod. Here's a project just to talk to the Dexcom. Here's a project just to talk to the pump. And then here's the thing that can kind of use them all. here's here's some of the title stuff. And so I didn't actually have access to CGM myself, I didn't actually have access to a lot of working stuff. What I had access to was my own research on my pump stuff, which was my main focus and then I had already started networking out and contacting Layne and these other folks, you know, Scott Lybrand and Dana Lewis, meeting all these other folks, and not just in diabetes, you know, for example, Dave bronkart and Hugo compost, I met them going around doing things, advocacy work on data access and privacy and sharing, I would meet those folks and connect them also to the diabetes folks saying, not only is this a unique problem in diabetes, getting your access to your data in healthcare is a problem in other disease states as well. And now what I've come to learn is not only does it affect healthcare, it affects other industries as well. It affects the agriculture industry. Right now, there's a huge issue in the agriculture industry, with farmers not being able to digital tractors and farmers not being able to get their data off of their digital tractor and where it used to be just like the syringe and it used to be a mechanical pump. It used to be a simple mechanical device that anyone could learn about and do it themselves right in front of them, it was obvious how it worked. And that is one of the risks with the adoption of digital technologies. without some support. Without enough documentation, it may not be obvious how it works. So after that D data in the winter, spring started to come around the next year, and I wound up leaving tide pool around April. Now Brandon arbeiter from typo was my roommate at the time. And I remember that about a week after I left tide pool he actually came home with with a bag full of goodies, he came home with a new SIM card, a new cell phone, and he showed me his laptop. And he had all these emails with like source code attached and instructions and websites. And actually, it was kind of a big mess. But I was very excited because this was for the first time all of the pieces in one place. This was the legendary nightscout rig finally in my hands, so I knew exactly what to do. I helped him set up nightscout. I didn't have a working CGM at the time and setting him up with nightscout was actually what convinced me to start using a CGM again, because when I quit, I decided I'm never going to use a CGM. Again, it's not worth it for the discomfort and the quality of life until I can control the data until I can get the data off with nightscout. that possibility came true. And so Brandon came home with that rig. And I helped him set it up. And then I helped set up a bunch of other families. And I converted those emails and those attachments, I converted those into a set of webpages for the very first time, and organized all of the source code. Again, on GitHub, which is the social coding site, I organized all of those projects into well framed projects, the way that programmers would work with these things very, very natively. Very idiomatically. And so I put those up on the web on GitHub, and started calling people over to them. And I showed James wedding and Kate Farnsworth, and Christine dealtrack. Some of these folks, I showed them the new web instructions, and actually walked them through for the first time, once people were able to go on the web, and do a Google search and find it and get all of the instructions in one place. That's when the installs really, really really started taking off. That's when the Facebook group went from 100 to 1000s. And the rest is history right?
Stacey Simms 28:35
down. And this is probably a good time to just say that. I've spoken to several people from the the we're not waiting community, and one of them is Jason Adams, who tells the whole story of the Facebook group, and you know, that community and how that came to be. So we'll link that up for sure. and a bunch of other information. But I remember that too. And it just seemed like he was unbelievable to some as in like, wow, we can finally see this and can you believe we can do it, you know, ordinary people. And you know, you do need to, you know, get some help, but you can do it, you can do it. And then there were other people in the community saying, I can't believe we haven't been able to do this until now. Like I knew we could do this. Like, it was very funny to see the people who really understood kind of the back end of things, at least from my perspective. And once that ball started rolling, it seems like it was just moving really quickly. It was a very exciting time. Do you remember it as one?
Ben West 29:24
Oh, yeah, I mean, tide pool had a one of their global, they pull everyone from across the globe in the area everyone saw about once a year. And so I got to see a bunch of those folks again, and they were all hanging out. And I remember we were on Facebook just watching Facebook blow up. I mean, they're the posts were coming in, he and your grandson was watching this thing. We mocked up little videos of like, here's the next step that we're going to make an automated system with, you know, this is just the beginning and we didn't post it but we were just in awe of the energy that was coming. In behind the post describing nightscout. I mean, here we have what's essentially a webpage. And there's so much momentum behind this project that people were saying things like we're paying it forward, they were saying things like, we are nightscout. And I've never been part of a technology project where people start identifying as the project, I expected the conversation to change, I laid a lot of a lot of stepping stones in place, to enable the conversation to change that we can speak clearly, as people with needs that are unmet, here's what our needs are. But I did not expect people to identify that I am this products that really blew us away.
Stacey Simms 30:42
I'm gonna come back to that, because I think diabetes is very personal. And it was one of the few times where people felt like they not only had a stake in it, but they were also being heard. But I do want to ask you, we've done lots of episodes on nightscout and openaps. And please feel free to jump in if there are things that you would like to share. But you mentioned when we were prepping for this interview testifying for I don't even know how to say this testifying for the 1201 federal DMCA exemption hearing.
Ben West 31:08
Yeah, that's right, is that? Well, like I said, one of the things I started to learn, when I started talking to people, what I would code switch into the data governance language, I started to find that there's other people working on this. There's academics, there's people in other industries, and there's legal scholars. And it turns out, FDA has a role in a lot of what we do in diabetes. But it turns out, there's other regulators that deal with other parts of life, the Library of Congress regulates certain things. And one of the things that they do is they manage these 1201 hearings, our carve outs are ways for the public to say, here's this regulation that exists. But I want to testify to get relief from the regulation that does exist, and the regulation in question, this concept of DMCA, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and in part of that regulation, has to do with the technical protections, the technical protective measures that manufacturers place inside of their devices, and the consequences for attempting to manipulate that device, potentially to overcome such a protection. Now, the issue here is that this is a technical means that some firms use to make it difficult to get the data on a very practical level, the one of the things that they can do is they can say, well, we're putting a technical measure in place so that only authorized users can get access to the data. who's an authorized user? Well, the manufacturers, of course, is the patient an authorized user? Well, maybe maybe not. Right? That's kind of the debate that's still playing out to this day. One of the exemptions that I went to testify for was that for medical devices, if what you're seeking to do is to get a copy of your own data, there should be no penalty for doing that. And that exemption was granted. Pardon my ignorance,
Stacey Simms 33:03
is that exemption granted for you? Or was that something that was more blanket for
Ben West 33:07
the Americans, all US citizens,
Stacey Simms 33:09
you think that would be front page news? That's amazing. Very, very cool.
A lot more ahead with them. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. If you are a veteran, the Dexcom gs six continuous glucose monitoring system is now available at Veterans Affairs, pharmacies in the United States, qualified veterans with type one and type two diabetes may be covered. picking your Dexcom supplies up at the VA pharmacy may save you a lot of time to connect with your doctor for more information. Dexcom even has a discussion guide you can bring with you to your doctor, get the guide, find out more about your eligibility go to dexcom.com slash veterans. Now back to my conversation with Ben West.
What is nightscout? Right now? No, the commercial offerings have changed a lot. He was title submitting loop to FDA. What is nightscout as a service offering right now or is that even the right word offering?
Ben West 34:20
So do you want to know about nightscout as a service, or just nightscout? What is nightscout as a whole?
Stacey Simms 34:25
What is it right now? What is it? Like? How do you define it right now? Because it's not the rig? Is it still right? It's not like you're plugging into this into that. I mean, what how it's kind of changed in the last few years. So I guess I'm not sure what I'm asking. I pardon my ignorance there. But
Ben West 34:39
when you bring up the rig, you say what is your asking what is nightscout? right now and you mentioned, you know, for example, it used to be the rig.
Stacey Simms 34:46
That's what I think it was nightscout is I think of people printing a case for this for that and then and then you got to be careful because the wire might break at some point.
Ben West 34:55
Sure. So I think of nightscout as kind of two things. There's the philosophic Typical version of nightscout. And then there's like a piece of software that also exists, right? So and what I mean by that is there's the nightscout ecosystem, right. And this includes the people that are using nightscout. It includes the coaches, the school nurses, the teachers, the clinicians, the parents, the guardians, the caretakers, and the patient's themselves, right. And so there's this thing, that is the network of nightscout. And then there's a piece of software. And in fact, there's a whole bunch of pieces of software and devices, right. So there's the cgms, whether it comes from Abbott, or from Lee Ray are from Medtronic, right? There are the insulin pumps, whether they come from Medtronic or maybe Tandem or maybe Insulet, in the United States. And then there's other kinds of devices, too. There's like cloud devices, right? So some of your Dexcom data goes to Dexcom Cloud, some of your Medtronic data goes to carelink, Medtronic cloud. And so nightscout, there's a lot of ways for data to exist in the world of devices, connected devices that data can come from. And then there's this central hub in the cloud. And that's the piece that usually I think of as nightscout. When people say, Oh, I'm going to go file a bug report on nightscout, or developer says, I'm going to go fix a bug on nightscout. Really, they're talking about this cloud native piece of software that draws the graphs that provides you with a web page, the API that all of the other devices then connect to, right. So that forms when all when you have multiple devices that are talking to nightscout, all of a sudden, you have this nightscout network. And the thing that we think of as nightscout is what I like to think of is that cloud piece of software right in the center of it all.
Stacey Simms 36:44
So this might sound silly for someone who hasn't used it, or doesn't really understand what is nightscout. in that setting, as you mentioned, what is it used for? How does it help somebody with diabetes,
Ben West 36:58
one thing a lot of people talk about is data governance, being able to control your data. And that's certainly true, I have found that the most profound thing I have found is that it's really this, this concept of sharing, when you invoke the buddy system in your life, you know, as you travel through life, is it during the transitionary events, when you start a new therapy, when you have a special day, and you want some help, and that these are the kinds of things that people are sharing, it used to be when we first started nightscout, almost 10 years ago, seven, seven years ago, it was all about let's at least share what we know about the past. You know, let's share the alerts and alarms. Those are retrospective, right, you have to have past data to generate an alerting alarm. And that's kind of like current and past data. And people would use that the classic use case there that that made the news was when parents go to the office, and the children are going through the school day, and maybe going through mixed authorities and different just different realms of concerns across as they travel through life. What we have found since then, is that it's not just the retrospective data in terms of keeping current that people want to share. It's actually every aspect of diabetes. Surely, if you had the technology and the power, to share your alerts and alarms with me, surely you can share the tools to help me prevent those alerts and alarms. That's where the future is going is we're gonna see services that allow sharing, not just alerts and alarms, but managing every aspect of diabetes as we transition through every phase in our lives. So this is a really exciting time to be in because nightscout is years ahead of some of the big vendors here, providing feature sets for all of those things.
Stacey Simms 38:47
It seems like that's a good segue into medical data networks. Can you talk about what that is and what the goal is? Sure.
Ben West 38:54
So I've always been interested in this concept of the power of networks. That's one of the things that really got us interested as we started building out the nightscout ecosystem, making sure that we could talk to connected insulin pumps, making sure that we could talk to connected CGM, and talking to people about the data governance and the technology required to do that. In the past, I worked for a company called muraki. They made software defined networking. And that means if you've ever used Wi Fi in a public space, like Pete's coffee, or an airport or something like that, my software has protect your privacy, govern your use of the network govern the speeds at which you can use the network even govern which sites you can visit. And this is very complex techie stuff, but we made a simple dashboard that allowed people to share the process of managing that experience. This is old hat for us. So we created this company medical data networks. What we want to do is wrap up and respect all these years of innovation that have happened in the DIY space and we want to make Set the norm. We don't think that any of this is controversial at this point, the idea that you'd have remote monitoring, the idea that open source would be a fertile ground for the innovative wetlands, right? Some people like to call it. And so that's part of what we're doing. And so now we're offering nightscout as a service. And we make nightscout. press button easy. And we're working with the FDA to make sure that we can operate it fully compliant.
Stacey Simms 40:28
That sounds to me like you're trying to offer kind of a DIY the nightscout for people like me who, when many others who were you know, reluctant to do DIY stuff? Is that what the service is? It's a Is it a paid service that I can kind of this is an awkward way to say, like commercialize or make simpler what nightscout has been?
Ben West 40:48
That's right. So we want to offer Nightscout as a service and reduce the barrier to entry, make the entire experience much more reliable, predictable and consistent. And we want to increase the benefits of remote monitoring for everyone, whether that's caretakers and parents or temporary guardians, or whether it's just people that just want to find their diet buddy on social media and share it with them.
Stacey Simms 41:10
Thank you. So tell me a little bit about what T1Pal
Ben West 41:13
is? Sure, I'd love to. So T1Pal is our first product from medical data networks. And it leverages all the experience that we had building nightscout. So T one path is Nightscout as a service. So you can think of it as the easy way, it's a new way to get started with nightscout. And it eliminates all of the server and database administration and DIY craft. So it makes it as easy as any other platform where you simply sign up, you pay for your subscription, and you have access to all of the benefits that Nightscout brings.
Stacey Simms 41:46
Is it on the app store? Is it something that people buy? How do they get
Ben West 41:50
Dutch the website to one call.com, you
Stacey Simms 41:52
can go on your browser. Either commercial products have kind of caught up I mean, I can remote monitor my son with a Dexcom. And you know, t slim or Tandem has an app that is on my son's phone. And I guess eventually I'll be able to see that Omni pod is sharing more, what makes this one better?
Ben West 42:11
Well, there's a lot of things. One is the if we go to the connectivity piece, right, this idea of interoperability, and the idea of bring your own device, when we talk about sharing, there's a the base level that I start with is bring your own device I want to share with myself, I want to share I have this Samsung or Apple or whoever created a brand new thing, you know, last week, it's a shiny new thing, I want to go get that and bring that into my therapy, that's going to be part of my system. Now, that's really tough for a lot of these vendors I've been just I've been it's ago, I was looking at a brand new error that someone posted that I've never seen before on, you know, a Dexcom app. And it says it's incompatible in some brand new way. So this idea is really tough for the classic manufacturers who developed these really austere quality systems, right, and those quality systems control for change in the system. And the idea is you want to control your own destiny, and eliminate any possibility of variation. And so in a lot of these systems, what that means is we're going to test on exactly these versions. And anything that we add to that means increased workload that we have to go test. And so we create these haves and have nots. In a world that moves as fast as the one that we're living in where bring your own device, bring your own connectivity, this is the norm. Now, I think the industry, we just need more help, we need more players that are experts in this kind of connectivity in this kind of interoperability to make to satisfy the customer's demands. That's really the area that we specialize in is this idea of Bring Your Own Device connectivity. So that's one and then the other is this idea of sharing a lot of these systems, they're built for that initial use case that we discussed, where it's really oriented around the concept of the nuclear family. And you we know you have exactly these many family members and exactly these roles, and that's the way it's gonna work. Or if you want something else that starts to not work very well. You know, if you want the school nurse to have access during school hours, that doesn't really work very well. The idea of sharing, does it really require installing patient? Or is there a web app that works on any device? Those kinds of things, I think Nightscout still has a really compelling advantage. In addition to all the features, she talked about all the watches, there's more than 20 watch faces just for Garmin for Nightscout.
Stacey Simms 44:44
Right and that's just the one brand Garmin there's the all the other ones the Apple Watches smart, the Google wears, etc. fitbits when you see their watch faces, you still need your phone, right? Has anybody gone direct from Dexcom transmitter to phone yet is that maybe some You're working on?
Ben West 45:01
Oh, no, I, I can't say much about that.
Stacey Simms 45:03
Can you confirm it's really hard because that's what I hear from my friends in the DIY space that I've been bugging for five years about this.
Ben West 45:10
What I will say is that this idea of interoperability and connectivity, the idea that you're actually operating a network networks and decentralized systems operate on fundamentally different rules than closed systems that are composed of one unit. And device manufacturers specialize in kind of making these one units or boxes of units at a time. And they fill the shelves with those units, this mode where you start operating in a network with multiple devices that are connected, and you have decentralized emergent behaviors, this is a difficult area. So a lots of technologists that I've worked with agree that nothing's impossible, it's all software, we can make it do anything. But it does require willing participants that are collaborating.
Stacey Simms 45:54
One thing that I have found of talking to you over this time is you're very generous towards the commercial systems, you know, there is no, and I think this is very genuine, there's no bashing, you're not trying to put anybody down, it seems to me and you can correct me if I'm wrong here, this is how I feel. So maybe I'm projecting that there is a really important place for these commercial systems with their very, you know, big, you know, simplicity, they have to be able to be used by a vast majority of people with diabetes, they have to be understood by clinicians. But there is this also really, really important DIY focus that we've seen over the last almost 10 years now. And I do think that I wish there was more cooperation, but they are almost complimentary. And when they're both needed, am I off the mark there? Or am I kind of reading between the lines that you may feel a similar way?
Ben West 46:42
I agree completely. Stacy, what we have is a market full of people with this inhumane disease, right. And this inhumane disease demands all kinds of things on our time and our resources. And because it's inhumane, there's a lot of needs. Now, these companies solve problems in consistent and reliable ways for people. And that's what we need, we need to all as a market, we need a functional market that's working efficiently. That's providing high fidelity health care that provides a reasonable return on investment in terms of the fidelity of care, the more resources that we spend health care and wellness, we should be seeking a return that yields the kind of fidelity commensurate with the spend, right. So in diabetes for a long time it was you could go try and try and try. And you could try as harder and harder and harder as you'd like, a day to day may not be the same, you may not get the same results. And so trying harder is perceived as not worthwhile. Because there's no feedback loop that provides the yield that's required. I think that what we have is a world that's changing with technology really, really fast. And we have an ethical imperative to use that technology in humane and equitable ways. I open sourced all of this software when we got started, because for me, that was part of this, the scientific methodology of it all is someone else should be able to take this software and debug it audited, etc. That was a really important working principle. For me. That's exactly what we need is we need a working process and all of these domains, we need innovation happening. And we need a pipeline that can deliver the benefits of those innovations in an efficient way to the most number of people possible, as quickly as possible. And why? because as we know, this condition, this intensive insulin therapy is just an inhumane condition, it demands too much. And so I'm imagining a world where we can work together, we can have a bolus free up lane free therapy, we can have Bring Your Own Device connectivity, and have full remote control, we can have the supercomputers and the the networks and the people that are connected to our devices and our data work in a collaborative way to prevent repeated hype hyperglycemia repeated insulin reactions, and we can use that data equitably and humanely to deliver high fidelity healthcare. And
Stacey Simms 49:08
that's the vision. You've talked about diabetes 2.0. Is that what you're referring to?
Ben West 49:14
Well, that's an idea. I've been workshopping. I'm hesitant to use the numbers for all kinds of reasons. I have talked to people, not just children and parents, I have now talked to people that have had type 1 diabetes for 40, for 50 years. And they are telling me that this network effect that we have created is one of the most powerful things that's that's happened in their lives. I don't know how to respond other than to try to do more. We've got feedback now from parents and children from people in their middle age and from people that are now experienced 4050 years with diabetes, telling us that this has had such an impact that everyone This should be the standard of care for everyone. And I think When we look at what we're doing today, we're still in the early days, we still haven't really optimized for the next gen system where people are really living their lives really free of the blame and stigma. You don't have the blame for getting a bolus wrong, or for carb counting wrong. Because either because you can share it with someone, you can share this complex dosing decision as it transpires right, you can share it with your buddy, you can share it with an expert you choose, you can share it with someone you trust on demand, or someone could do it for you. That's what we're seeing it for a lot of these parents in school, now it's run day, or it's Testing Day, and the parent can manage all of that stress remotely. That's where we're going even with automated systems. That's what we're seeing. Because the demands as you travel through life, the demands change, and sometimes it's fine to coast and let the machine handle it. Sometimes it's necessary to find, invoke the buddy system and find a friend. Yeah, you know, you've
Stacey Simms 50:57
mentioned a couple times now bolus free blame free. Can I ask you just to kind of dig in on that a little bit more, because I love that concept of if you aren't deciding to give yourself insulin for a meal or for a high, if you can't mess it up? How can you feel bad about it? And I think when you're an adult with type one, or if you're a parent making decisions for your children about this, this guilt, this mental health part of it is so overlooked.
Ben West 51:22
You're so right, Stacy, I call this the onus to bolus Yeah, the onus to bolus so what we've done is we've made out of necessity, we have a system of intensive insulin therapy that requires multiple daily injections. That's been the standard since the introduction of insulin. And then more recently, continuous subcutaneous insulin injection, right? See a society that's classic pump therapy for a brief while we saw the introduction of what's called sensor augmented therapy, sensor augmented pumps, which is where you pair the glucose readings with the insulin pump. And then more recently, we have the introduction of these automated insulin dosing systems, hybrid, full, etc. What all of these systems do is they help address the symptom of diabetes, which is high, uncontrolled glucose. And insulin is the mechanism that we have to bring that glucose back down and under control. It's amazing that this works at all, I sometimes just marvel at how incredible it is that we can manually take this missing hormone insulin, and just dump it in the body almost anywhere, it seems. And it works in the sense that it does provide this temporary relief of controlling that glucose, as we know that balance is extraordinarily difficult, because it is our responsibility to get that right. What happens is, if you get it wrong, it's kind of your fault, especially if you've been given a calculator where your job is you just have to put in the right number. And you know, the calculator will spit out the right number for you. And now it's your job to carb count, or count the number of fat and then deduct the fat and link out the number of fiber and the deductor fiber. And then by the way, for the delay, you know, due to other effects due to the fat, or any alcohol on board, anything like that, or because of sickness or you know what, maybe not feeling well. And actually, you lose your carbs, right? after you eat and you lose the carbs, it just becomes so tricky. One to even know when it is you're going to eat to know how much it is you're going to eat. Three know how that's going to digest. And we could go on and on and on all day about the trouble with this thing. But the problem is, when the language comes up for how we talk about this, we talk about Did you get it correct? You know, we use the words like correction factor, we use the words like correction bolus. I've heard parents actually talk to their children and say go correct yourself. And I've never had that experience, because I was diagnosed in my 20s. But the experience I have had, and this was in my 30s, I was doing exercise in a class and I had an insulin reaction. And you know, I had to take a break out of the class, I really wasn't feeling well, right. And it's really, it's never pleasant when that happens for so many reasons. But one of the biggest is always you're just you're othered you're not part of the group doing the activity anymore. You're often in this weird thing. And often it's involving bloodletting in front of everyone, right? I mean, this is not good. And then so I'm having this conversation afterwards about, you know, here's my CGM. Here's my pump. And, you know, this instructor goes well, Oh, isn't that great? That is doing all that for you. Great. So the reasonable person when they see all of these devices, they're expecting it to do all of this already. Right? That's that's the reasonable person's expectation. I had to have a 15 to 20 minute conversation explaining, well, no, it doesn't really work like that. I have to take the CGM number, I have to guess if it's right. I have to get some blood to make sure. And then I have to do this thing. And then you know, I have to take the right I'm out. And the response right away, this still affects me was. So does that mean you just did up? When I explained how the mechanics works, the onus is on me the onus to pull this is on me to get it right. And the entire system around this is designed to make sure that it's not anyone else's fault. As it should be, it should not be anyone else's fault. If it's going to be someone's fault, it should be mine. But the entire system is designed to dock the way that you interact with the doctors, the therapy that they start you on is designed so that they're not going to kill you. They don't want to kill you. Yeah. And it's designed to just keep you alive, and they'll try to figure things out. You know, after that, let's keep you alive. First, the way that design happens in manufacturing with these vendors, I call it defensible design. It is designed so that they will not be held responsible for something going wrong. That's the way that it's designed.
Stacey Simms 55:53
It's interesting, because so many thoughts flashed through my head when you were talking about those things in terms of blame a lot of parents and I speak on this to try to get them to stop, but a lot of parents call the a one c visit to the endocrinologist their report card, you know, it's mom's report card. And that's a really tough way to look at this. But I understand why. And another thought I had was when we started with control IQ, about a year and a half ago now, I was just gobsmacked on how many decisions it makes it can make something like 300 decisions a day and how we were and I say we because you know, I mean, Ben, he was diagnosed at two. So I'm still going through the process of saying his diabetes, not our diabetes, so forgive me. But you know, he's a once he went down, his time and range went up. But it really showed me how there was no way for me as a parent of a toddler and a little kid and a middle schooler. And there was no way for him as an individual to keep up with that machine. And that machine couldn't even be perfect. And I got to tell you, well, it was frustrating to say okay, the machine can be perfect. It was so freeing to be able to say I had no chance, if that makes sense.
Ben West 56:58
That's why I chose the word inhumane stage, is when you see what it takes for success, you realize you didn't stand a chance. And we have to find ways other than blaming each other. We have to use technology and in this in this way to make this possible.
Stacey Simms 57:15
Thinking that way, then, let's talk a little pie in the sky here. Obviously, Dream stuff with technology isn't gonna happen next year, or maybe even the next five years. I don't know what the timeline is. But what do you want to see? I mean, can you give me some, and I'm going to put you on the spot, but maybe some concrete examples of how that bonus to bolus could be lifted?
Ben West 57:35
Well, there's, there's a number of ways to address this. You mentioned other technologies, other therapies, there's certainly so many capabilities, we're adding to our tool belt, whether that's new therapeutics, I've heard of people taking other hormones, other injections, supplementary injections, that that seems to really work. Well. For some folks, we've got faster insolence coming relatively soon, some folks are working on, you know, micro dosing, glucagon. And then there's there's other types of therapeutics as well. So there's all kinds of things it's really difficult to know, a lot of that is out of my wheelhouse. I'm a software person, I know how to manage cloud, we know how to do transformational services, digital transformation, right, we know how to manage really complex stuff, using technology to provide a collaborative decision making process, it's in the power of the web, or society as a whole. That's why I wanted to become a technologist and work on the web as a whole was this idea of the collaborative power of sharing. That's my big bet. That's the thing that I get really excited about, I see automated dosing systems are coming faster insulins are coming. And those are all great, they're going to be so profound and helping people. But at the end of the day, with these therapies, you're still facing exactly that you're facing a lifelong journey with other people with this experience. And my big bet is that this need for sharing is so fundamental that that's why sharing is being adopted in every part of software that we look at every piece of technology that we get first. It's like a solo experience. And then eventually, it becomes like a collaborative social experience. that's been true of a lot of different kinds of software. And I think that we're going to see the same thing in diabetes care that we'll see clinics that will embrace the digital technology, so that instead of having appointments once every 90 days, or once every six months or once a year, whatever it is that you're going to get connected to the people you trust in the experts you need just in time and on demand. So if you're someone if you're using one of these fancy pumps that's connected to supercomputer and connected to a network, there should be an agreement for how this is going to work. If you're going low. lifetimes per night. What is the pathway for someone to intervene for us to deliver the help that you need? Because I'm pretty sure no one wants to go for an insulin reaction for a sixth and seventh night. Yeah, I'm pretty sure there's some consent that can be arranged. There's got to be some design there. Right, where we're going to eliminate this. When I think about the remote overrides, and the overrides features that are happening right now we're, you know, we're playing around with things like sleep mode, things like exercise mode, those are dosing decisions. When you decide to invoke sleep mode, or invoke exercise mode, the algorithm is changing its dosing slightly, it turns out that all dosing decisions are just really, really hard. You can't turn on dosing. On exercise mode, when you start exercising, you have to turn it on hours ahead of time, right? Like those kinds of things. Maybe we could share access to those things. One of the examples that I've been learning about recently is, is this remote overrides where the teenager is doing testing, and it's stressful on test day, and your attention is supposed to be on taking the test. It's not supposed to be on managing diabetes, and in fact, playing around with diabetes devices, which is how it's gonna look like to the proctor to the school that you're just playing around with devices, that becomes an issue. Can you trust the proctor to handle these devices, etc? Well, guess what, with remote overrides this idea of remote controls and sharing your dosing decisions, that becomes a non issue. I've heard of parents and teenagers coming up with a plan for the day, okay, it's testing, here's what's going to happen. Here's the schedule we're going to go through, and the parent is able to help coax the automated dosing machine through the day. And all of a sudden, what I don't know how else to handle it. Because that's the nature of life is that Sure, you can schedule some things, you can automate some things. But there's all these edge cases, as you travel through life that demand more they demand attention from humans. And if as long as that's true, it's also true that humans are going to want to share that experience.
Stacey Simms 1:02:04
I have to ask you, Ben, are you saying that there is a system out there that someone could remote, not just communicate but control the insulin pump from from home?
Ben West 1:02:15
Yeah, it's real. You could set exercise mode or eating student mode, things like that.
Stacey Simms 1:02:21
Well, you can set exercise mode before you get somewhere but you can't like I can't at home, like my son right now. Is out running around the neighborhood. I can't say exercise mode go. I know, we are you mean in the future?
Ben West 1:02:34
Not with Tandem but with Nightscout. And that's
Unknown Speaker 1:02:36
what I'm saying. Okay.
Ben West 1:02:38
Yeah, part of what I mean by it's several generations ahead. It's years ahead. In terms of, you know, night with nice guy, you can actually do these things, you can share dosing decisions as they transpire as life demands.
Stacey Simms 1:02:50
I'm still not clear though. I mean, I can not to share the decision, like the son says, I'm doing it, but I'm in my home five miles away, and I press a button on my phone and my son's pump changes when it's doing.
Ben West 1:03:01
I think that's one of the key insights with diabetes as well, Stacy, is that those decisions don't always happen at the time of when something is happening. Sometimes your dosing decision takes place five miles away, or hours before,
Stacey Simms 1:03:14
but I'm still not clear, but I'm so sorry. With Nightscout. Can I control my son's pump from five miles away? At the moment?
Ben West 1:03:21
Yes, you can. You can tell it to go into exercise mode telogen, sleeping mode, things like that. Yes. Okay.
Stacey Simms 1:03:28
Yes. Perfect. That's exactly what I was asking. Okay, sorry, for my ignorance. That's great. Sorry, there's, there's there's a whole other philosophical argument that we could have in the future about how much control parents should have At what age and but that's a different story altogether.
Unknown Speaker 1:03:41
Unknown Speaker 1:03:42
the choice to make there I want that
Ben West 1:03:44
choice. Right. This is where the really interesting conversations really begins right here is what is your personal data governance policy? What are the boundaries that families want to implement? And like, that's why I mentioned this particular story between this teenager, and I believe it was their mother, they actually have this conversation about like, okay, here's the day schedule, what are our roles for the day? Right? Isn't that such a beautiful thing? To say? Oh, you know, I think it's gonna be a stressful day for me. Could you just handle that?
Stacey Simms 1:04:13
Oh, it's fabulous. Go ahead.
Ben West 1:04:16
Could you just go ahead and handle that, for me? That's something that even as a professional adult, I want access to that kind of therapy. I would love to be able to say, you know what, I got a stressful day to day, could you just handle it for me? The same way that I can buy an Uber, I can get an Uber for the day, I think I should be able to get something like that for the day. I think that's coming. I'm interested in building it. So I do think that's what's coming, though. I think that's those are the kinds of things worth getting excited about. Yeah,
Stacey Simms 1:04:44
I used to give my son what I call the diabetes free day. And it was any time that he was stressed or had been doing things by himself, like he used to go to summer camp for a long time and, you know, not diabetes camp, but a camp where he was responsible for everything. And he was all burned out when he came home. So I would Two or three days of diabetes free, which we meant, and he was still doing finger sticks at the time, he wouldn't do any finger sticks, he wouldn't count any carbs, he wouldn't even touch his pump. And by the end of two days, he was like mom, mom, leave me alone. But he always liked it, you know, for a couple of days. And so if you can give us another diabetes free day, maybe when he's in college, Ben, I would love them.
Ben West 1:05:19
I think that's representative of the masses. I take care of myself most of the time, but every every once in a while, that's what vacations are for. And that restorative power of those vacations. I think that's something that people on intensive insulin therapy deserve.
Stacey Simms 1:05:34
We started this interview by kind of looking back at the beginnings of we are not waiting and and talking about all of the people that are part of that story, and your involvement and everything. You know, you mentioned it's almost 10 years already seven years, maybe since nightscout. When you're looking back, any thoughts on where we are? Now I know we've already said there's a long way to go. But from where I sit, I'm a lot happier with what I have just commercially for my son's diabetes than I was in say, you know, 2011, and I'm curious what your thought is for your own care.
Ben West 1:06:08
I'd like to see several more improvements. We have a problem with supply rationing of all kinds, whether that's CGM supplies, in my case, I ration my CGM supplies very, very carefully. I just cannot imagine when I add up the math, it seems pretty obvious that you don't have enough sensors to provide enough glucose monitoring, in order to make your automated dosing machine work all year round without any breaks. That's something that I'd like to see fixed is no this concept of it's just really difficult for people with diabetes to get enough supplies, whether that's glucose monitoring, or even access to insulin. On a basic level, you know, I have to start there, in some ways.
Stacey Simms 1:06:56
Yeah. And I really, you know, it's funny, it's not at all what I was thinking, and it is the number one thing we need to fix. Last night, Ben, I got in my car at nine o'clock, and brought pump in sets and cartridges to a mom whose insurance company was given her grief, and they had just, you know, it didn't the thing hadn't come, and she needed supplies. And I'm in my car, and a widow driving through town with a little lunchbox bag of diabetes supplies, I have a great group here, we'll help each other, but that shouldn't have to happen.
Ben West 1:07:25
And then for the for community members to be forced into the gray market like this. There's so many patients, and then to be demonized by industry, when there's real needs in the real world here that we're just trying to meet. So we need more collaboration across the board, that's for sure.
Stacey Simms 1:07:44
Alright, so as we wrap this up, and before I let you go, knowing that that's that's pretty serious. Here's a pretty silly one. We are not waiting was the hashtag that took off any predictions for what the next the next hashtag is going to be? love to see honest a bolus hashtag want us to have all this? Yeah, we'd like to get rid of that one. We'd like to use it and then get rid of it.
Ben West 1:08:03
That's right. Language matters and order symbols.
Stacey Simms 1:08:06
And thank you so much for sharing so much time with me. I followed you for years. I'm such an admirer. Even though I feel sometimes like I don't understand half of what's going on. But we you and so many others have done has just pushed this technology and the help for people with diabetes, so far ahead of where it would have been left to, you know, commercial devices. So I'm excited to have a chance to just say thank you for doing that. And thanks for talking with me.
Ben West 1:08:29
Thank you so much, Stacey. I really appreciate your work, too. I've heard so many of the interviews from people that I know and love. So this is truly so special to be a part of this. And I'm so grateful that you've taken up this project. So thank you as well. Oh, my gosh, thank you.
Unknown Speaker 1:08:50
You're listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 1:08:55
I could talk to Ben west for hours. And in the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that we did speak for probably a total of an hour and a half. The first time Ben and I talked, I got a little bit in the weeds after about 30 minutes. And most of the interview became me not understanding a lot of what was happening with nightscout. And I'm telling you this because you know me, I'm always in the interest of full disclosure, and I love behind the scenes stuff with podcasts or interviews shows, we agreed together that we would do another interview, I went through the transcript, I gave Ben a copy of the transcript and we kind of figured out what we had left out. And so I went back and recovered the nightscout. If you really want to pinpoint it, it happens right after the Dexcom commercial. That's where the second interview picks up about 3035 minutes into the first interview. We didn't leave anything on the cutting room floor that was important or would have changed the flow of the interview. But I think I was much more focused than was of course fine twice, but I was much more focused the second time around and you could even hear me and some of that Not understanding. It's so embarrassing sometimes, but not understanding what he is seeing. But I leave all of that in because I think that while many of you, as you listen are super technical, there's a lot of people who really don't understand everything that is being offered non commercially and DIY still. So that is why I left a lot of that in. Thank you so much for listening. I will link up a lot of what we mentioned over at Diabetes connections.com. Of course, there is a transcript as there is beginning in January of 2020. Every episode has one I'm still working to get the backlog done, but we will get there. Huge thanks to Ben west for really spending so much time with me and sharing so much information. Just so happy to have finally gotten him on the show. All right. Thank you as always to my editor John Bukenas for audio editing solutions. I'm Stacey Simms. I'll see you back here in just a couple of days for one of our classic episodes. Until then, be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged
Eight years ago, you could use a CGM but you couldn't share the data. Dexcom transmitters didn't connect to phones and parents and caregivers couldn't Follow anyone. That started to change - and change quickly - in 2013. That's when John Costik posted a photo on Twitter. That photo showed John's laptop, at home, monitoring his son Evan's blood sugar while Evan was miles away, at daycare.
John soon linked up with others who were also working on improving existing diabetes tech. That was the start of Nightscout and a host of other "We are not waiting" improvements, many of which are now integrated into commercial offerings.
This interview with John is from October of 2015. He has since left his job as a supermarket software engineer and is currently the director of digital product development at Beta Bionics. That's the company founded by Ed Damiano that's developing the iLet insulin pump.
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Episode Transcription Below
Stacey Simms 0:00
This episode of Diabetes Connections is brought to you by inside the breakthrough, a new history of science podcast full of did you know stuff.
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 0:19
Welcome to a classic episode of Diabetes Connections. As always, though, we aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin. These classic episodes are something new this year, we are bringing back some interviews that are from the very first year of year and a half of the show. We started in 2015, coming up on six years. So there's a lot of episodes that newer listeners haven't heard. And it's kind of fun to go back and give some perspective. I like revisiting. I'm emailing everybody that was featured. If they're getting a classic episode, I'm sending them a text message or a DM or email or you know, I'm just getting in touch with them to say anything you want to share, you know, any new stuff. And it's been really fun to reconnect with some of those previous guests.
I’ll be honest with you, I have really hesitated about bringing by older tech type episodes into this run of classics. We did a lot of interviews, like we do now with the pump companies and technology and things like that. And I think it could just be kind of confusing if you're a newer listener, or if you know, you put a classic episode on and you're thinking it's new. But I mean, let's say I run an episode from 2015, when Dexcom, for example, is talking about an upcoming piece of technology that now in 2021, is outdated or never happened. So I'm purposefully avoiding most of those interviews. If you're interested, though, there's a great search box. I'm really proud of the website. It's very robust, you can go and search the 372 episodes that we have put index calm, see how its evolved over time, put in animists and find out what happened, you know, that kind of stuff. Some of those types of interviews, though, especially from the Do It Yourself community are, in my opinion, very valuable and very much worth revisiting. So that is the topic for this week.
All right, come with me now let us go back to the olden days of diabetes back before 2013. Now I know most of you that's not the olden days for real. But you think about what has changed since then. Before 2013. It was a time where continuous glucose monitors were used. They were around we were at the time using I want to say the g4 Platinum pediatric. But you know, you could use it, you had a nifty little receiver, but you could not share the data. And it I don't believe in 2013 it was on anybody's phone, you definitely couldn't share. Then we saw the tweet. I've been on Twitter since 2008, thanks to my radio days, but I can't say that I was following john Costik at this time, but he was retweeted by somebody else I knew. And I saw this amazing thing. It was a dad watching his young son's blood sugar. On the dad's laptop. The kid was in daycare, the dad was at home, they were across town from each other in 2013. I started following that dad, john Costik. And of course, I was far from the only one john linked up with others who were also working on improving existing diabetes technology. And all of that was really the start of nightscout and a host of other we are not waiting type improvements, many of which are now integrated into commercial offerings. We are going to revisit that time with john Costik in just a moment and catch up on what he's doing now.
But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by inside the breakthrough on the surface. This podcast is a collection of fun, entertaining and even surprising stories from the history of science. But host Dan riskin digs deeper and he really does entertained while drawing connections between these stories and the challenges faced by modern day medical researchers. The latest episode it was just released a couple of days ago. It is wild Dan explains why it took a dozen people 200 years to discover and then undiscovered a planet. I love this podcast. I'm so glad to partner with them. You can search for inside the breakthrough anywhere you listen to audio wherever you found this podcast and if you are listening through the website or social media, click on Diabetes, Connections COMM And you'll see the insight the breakthrough logo. By the way, good time to remind you this podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
A couple of things to know before we jump into the interview, I did reach out to john Costik of course, as I mentioned, and he said let's let folks know I'm hard at work on the islet and its digital products. He is currently the Director of digital product development at beta bionics. He would love that and he says hope you're doing well Stacey and if you are not familiar in the islet is the product from Ed Damiano. We've had him on the show a couple of times beta bionics is the company that is now developing it The islet is finishing some clinical trials this year and should be submitted to the FDA. Pretty soon I am speaking to the folks at beta bionics about coming on the show and giving us an update. So we will work on that as well.
But also remember, this is from the fall of 2015, there are going to be dated references. I just want to kind of keep that in your brain. Because while it's fascinating to take a look back, you have to keep in mind as you listen, this is nearly six years ago, but I gotta tell you, I'm just as excited listening back to this interview as I was when I first saw that tweet, John Costik. I am thrilled to have you as my guest this week. Welcome to Diabetes Connections.
John Costik 5:41
Oh, thank you. so thrilled to be here.
Stacey Simms 5:43
Thank you very much. Let's talk about how this all started. Your son was diagnosed in 2012. He was four. But unlike a lot of people who have children diagnosed at any age, you had more technical knowledge than a lot of us. Can you take us through first, you know your diagnosis story, what happened to lead you to find out that your son have diabetes? And then you know, what made you think to look at the equipment and think well, this isn't good enough.
John Costik 6:11
Right? So it was late summer, end of August 2012. And Evan was showing sort of those classic signs that now we know are classic signs, right that he was thirsty all the time peeing all the time and just, you know, little get more lethargic as the day went on. And the 24th was a Friday and my wife Laura went over to pick them up from daycare surprise him with an early lunch. And when she got there that the instructor said, He's so thirsty, he's crying. So she called me and I was out for a run on the canal path. And I remember, she told me what was going on. I said, That's not good. And, you know, he's been really thirsty and really sweaty. past couple days, let's I said just, you know, both of our guts, were telling us, let's get into the doctor. So she called our primary care. And on like most appointments, where they're like, Well, yeah, we'll see you in a couple days, they were really quick to say, Okay, come in, at one o'clock, then, you know, so like a one hour delay from the time they called. So little did we know they I mean, they knew pretty much right away what it was. So as soon as they got there, of course, he had to go to the bathroom. So they did urine check. And he was clearly spilling sugars than they needed to finger check. And he maxed it out. And they basically said, we're gonna call the hospital, you get in the car and just go to the ER, we'll tell them. You're on your way.
Stacey Simms 7:42
Did you know anything about diabetes at that point?
John Costik 7:45
No, no. And this was Laura was at the doctor. So she called me I was at work at this point. And it was just like, getting hit in the head basically. And yeah, my, my knowledge of diabetes was very limited, much some family members that were type two, and I knew there was no type one and type two, and one was curable, one wasn't. And that was mostly because growing up my mother, my mother, she still is a nurse, but she's retired. But she was the school nurse. And there were a couple kids with type one. And I remember just hearing stories of her having to, you know, go to people's homes to pick up their insulin for them if they forgot it. So understanding that type one was distinctly different, I at least knew that much. But the next three days at the hospital, obviously, they put us through the type one boot camp, and send you on your way, basically with vials of insulin, and, in our case, humalog pen, and we had to sort of figure it out from there. Yeah, they gave us the general guidelines for how much insulin he may or may not need, how much lantis to give him. And we were on our way.
Stacey Simms 8:53
Now, it seems like you started on a continuous glucose monitor pretty quickly, how soon after you got home? Did you start thinking about that?
John Costik 9:00
So it was mentioned to us while we were at the hospital by the endocrinologist that diagnosed HIV. And at the time was the Dexcom. Seven, and the I think it was still the Medtronic soft sensor at that point. So those were the only two that were shown to us. And he said, okay, it's a lot of information up front. So we actually went with shots and did a lot of finger checking, initially. But one of the one of the things we recognized real quickly, was the ability to to log this data and communicate this data was sort of hampered you know, if the nurse was writing things down in a log book that didn't inform Laura and I how Evan was doing during the day. So the first thing I did was set up a website for logging, you know, nutritional data, finger checks and how much insulin we were giving him. So that was within probably a week after diagnosis had some semblance of that. And that was to prepare him for going back to daycare. So we could all stay in the loop. So that system would send Lauren an email, a text message whenever a treatment was entered.
Stacey Simms 10:11
Alright, so then a few months later, though, you decided to go with the Dexcom. g4.
John Costik 10:15
Yeah, we started looking around, so around November when I got approved. So I immediately signed up for all the diabetes technology, news letters and everything I could and started, you know, as, as my mind kind of settled down from the diagnosis. You know, I started looking to see what can we use to keep him safer, healthier, both in the short term and long term. And the g4 was approved, I believe it was November in that ballpark of 2012. So I began the process almost immediately to get that it took a while to get it through insurance. Because they actually like to see hypoglycemia before they'll give you tools to avoid it.
Stacey Simms 10:52
I know. And if you do, too well, they want they might take it away. That's the craziest part.
John Costik 10:56
No, no, your son's still healthy doesn't need the thing that's keeping him healthy. Yeah. So. So unfortunately, or, you know, he did have a low in January, that basically put us over the edge. Then they approved it, and we had it in, you know, the second or third week of February 2013. And that's when we began using that. And does that mean immediately it was sort of a revelation to have this second order data, this trend data along with the blood sugar, just so to know directionally where he's going. And you know, what's happening in those periods that we were blind to before. So immediately after meals, we'd see these big spikes that come right down. But, you know, got our mind spinning on, what can we do to improve that? And at the same time, when we sent him to school, is there any way for us to have continued access to the CGM data?
Stacey Simms 11:52
Now you both you and your wife both have backgrounds in engineering? Correct. And so this was something that you looked at, and what did you think of the system because somebody like me, you know, I was a communications major in college, I've worked in broadcasting my whole life. I looked at the CGM. And I thought, Wow, this is so great. How could it get any better? You looked at and thought this is the dumbest device in terms of talking to anything else?
John Costik 12:14
Right, but but I understood the position that everything sort of has, has to go through that growing cycle. So I understood that. So I also my wife worked at an FDA regulated company. So we had some idea that putting a medical device online and presenting that data to people is more daunting for the commercial entity than it would be for us as individuals to just extend it. So we I mean, we were never, I never really railed against Dexcom. In at the time, I think they had sort of shown off some semblance of share, or there'd been some patents that came along that indicated that they were clearly moving towards remote monitoring at some point. But it wasn't something I was going to wait for. Right. So I have the CGM. Now this great device, I have a laptop that can talk to it. And I know, I can take that data off and send it to a cloud service. Or, in our case, we just started with a simple Google spreadsheet that we sent the data to. And then I wrote an iPhone app that pulled that data down and your web app, so the school could just see, you know, his current blood sugar and trend. So we integrated that with with our care portal website. And that was powered by a laptop top load. So initially, I just used a repurposed Dexcom zone, what I call a DLL, linking library dynamic linking library. So that's basically just a program that allows you to interface programmatically with the receiver. So I just repurposed that wrote a fairly simple Windows application to just pull that data every five minutes, and then upload it to that. Like I said, that Google spreadsheet.
Stacey Simms 14:02
Okay, so I'm just curious, was it hard for you to do that? Did it take you a long time? Or did you sit down and tap the tap tap? You know, you're done. You got it?
John Costik 14:10
It wasn't, wasn't challenge. So my background in software, I it was relatively recent background, but it was all focused around windows code, and specifically writing these sorts of libraries for other hardware devices. So I understood if I took their library and put it into what what I would call, you know, a software project, that I wouldn't be able to see exactly the interfaces that could pull that data into my own application. So it really only took probably an hour or two, to write to write the basic windows uploader.
Stacey Simms 14:46
And then you put this picture on Twitter. I don't know how long after that said, Look at what we're doing. Isn't that interesting? And did you expect the reaction that you got which was basically jaws dropping around the country, saying how Do I do that?
John Costik 15:01
Yeah, that's, I took some pictures of the windows one initially. And that didn't get a ton of attention. And when when I started going after a truly ambulatory like a mobile solution, that is what really drew people in. So I knew Evan was going to kindergarten, I wanted him to be able to remotely monitor, monitor, monitor, no matter where he was, was, he was on the bus, in class moving around, so I knew, you know, even a really small laptop wouldn't cut, it just wouldn't be convenient for him. But if I could get a small cell phone, smartphone and do that, great. So I started in Android was really the only choice they make much easier to communicate with USB devices and other accessories. So I started working on that, beginning of May, in about a week or two into may, I had sort of unraveled how Dexcom was communicating with the device and, and what that communication looked like and how to interpret that, and then send it along to to a web service to a cloud service. So those tweets got people's attention. And I think I chimed in on on a bulletin board somewhere. And that's when Wayne Desborough reached out and said, Hey, I'd really like to do the same thing for my son, he's his room is too far for the receiver to be in our room and reach him. So we'd like to do to build a remote monitoring system.
Stacey Simms 16:36
Okay, so let me stop you there and tell me if this is all correct. Lane despereaux. Now with Bigfoot biomedical, yep. He has an engineering background as well, I think you work for Medtronic for a while, but he had designed his own home display system. He He's the guy who came up with the nightscout name, right. But he didn't connect it to the internet.
John Costik 16:56
Now, he, he did so ln really took my uploader and created that open source nightscout back end. So the the website you see today is is an evolution of his original design, and uses the same architecture. So a Mongo database, and a Node JS application sitting on a web server somewhere, and allowing people to view you know, their data or their loved ones data. Okay, so that that core was was Lane's work. And later, he brought on Ross nailer, software engineer, and they sort of refined that and got it to that point where, where it could could go live. So for my part, they, they took my uploader code, you know, I gave that to them. And I took their chart code, and put that into, into our home system. And that's sort of where it took off. So in the middle of the summer, I started using the Pebble watch, because I my whole goal this whole time was just how simple can I make this? How glanceable and easy can I make this for everybody involved, because I don't want to stare at the chart all day at work, I just want to know when something's up, I want to go on my day, but know that this system will tap me on the shoulder when it needs to. So Pebble watch was was a good way to do that. Because you can make it vibrate and do all sorts of things to get your attention.
Stacey Simms 18:25
Okay, so now you've got it on your Pebble watch laying despereaux and other people that you've mentioned, are coming up with their own additions. When did what we now recognize as nightscout? When did that all come into play? Was it a few weeks or months after you all kind of shared your codes?
John Costik 18:45
So I think lane started using that name fairly early on. And we all met Finally, actually, Lane was in Rochester, New York for a sailing competition that I believe he won at the end of August 2013. So he actually was at our house for Evans first diversity. And that was a great time when he and I got talking about, you know, everything, right? Very, just an amazing individual really inspired me and opened my eyes to like, Look, there's a lot of people trying to do this. And right now, between the two of us, we have all the components to make it happen. So it was very inspiring, because up until then, I mean, I was a software engineer at a supermarket. Right? Yeah, that wasn't something I'd considered. You know, I lived in a small town. I never really looked beyond that. I liked my simple life. And part of my response to Evans diabetes was I want my simple life back. So these were the tools I wanted to build that I needed to take it back. Right. Yeah. But now seeing this really large unmet need across the entire, you know, population of people with diabetes. He's in there and their loved ones woke me up to that. And then in November, I went to the data exchange, which is hosted by tide pool and diabetes mine. And then diabetes, mine has their Innovation Summit the same, you know, in that same couple days cycle. And that really sort of sealed the deal for me to see what type who was doing, starts trying to integrate all this data. And I'm like, wow, okay, this is really happening. So I can either join in, or, or not, right, and it just seemed like an obvious thing to, you know, pitch in and see what we could do. So, at that point, it was really just a matter of refining that code, to a certain point where other people could make it work. And personally, I didn't think it would ever grow beyond, you know, a sort of core really technically savvy group of people that could set up their web server set up the cloud service, right, and compile a Java application for their Android phone.
Stacey Simms 21:04
Well, that's what's what's remarkable about this whole movement is that, you know, as you say, this core of people, is making it all available to people who have no real technical knowledge, who are completely intimidated by the whole thing, but want access to this information to the point where they're willing to get in a Facebook group and say, Hey, can you help me? And then people do it, people help. And it's been really remarkable to see how it's grown and how people like you are not just sharing your code, but sharing time to set up all of these systems. When you look back now. I mean, can you imagine that? There's something like 14,000 people in the CGM in the cloud Facebook group. I know not everybody's using the system. But they're they're looking at this stuff. Did you think I would get this big?
John Costik 21:50
No, no, not Not a clue. I mean, Laura and I, we had some inkling that what we built was awesome. Because it really enabled Evan to have as close to like that standard school kindergarten experience, as we could have ever imagined after his diagnosis, right? Oh, he had to carry, you know, a little bag around, but he would have had to anyway, right, he'd always need his glucagon and glucose and finger checker. So it wasn't too much more of a burden to put a cell phone and and the the CGM monitor in their hand. Good. Yeah. So just enabled him and we worked with the school nurse, and we refined, you know, our web application and our care portal, to really be something that that she was comfortable using. And something you know, that that informed us, you know, in real time of what was going on in school. So it's really just a nice experience. And again, like, like the daycare experience we've had an amazing experience with, with the Lavanya School District, the nurse in particular, she's just a wonderful person just wants everyone to be happy and healthy, and every kid in that school, so she's, she's like Laura nine. Now. She just she knows his diabetes really well, because she can just glance at and she gets a really good sense for what's going on in his day and how he's feeling and how that will impact his blood sugar. And there's almost never an occasion where we have to chime in or even text her to say, Hey, can you give him a grammar to, you know, and if we do do that she's already on her way down, are already calling down to make it happen. So it's just it's just been an amazing thing for him and for us, and it's been wonderful.
Stacey Simms 23:34
How's he doing these days? He's in second grade now.
John Costik 23:37
Yeah, second, he's doing a good. So it's, it's nice with the share receiver, we can use the Bluetooth connection so that that Reagan's gotten smaller and simpler for you know, it's wireless now. So we really can get his, you know, physical burden of the devices to a minimum at this point. It's also improved outcomes tremendously is a one C is great, you know, his standard deviation is time and range, all these things improve by having this sort of, always on and easy access to, to all this diabetes data.
Stacey Simms 24:13
And you mentioned the Dexcom share, we should note that Dexcom share Medtronic has is coming out with a system that is similar, where instead of doing it yourself, they're setting it up for you. But that and I don't know if I'm explaining this correctly, but there are still features that you all have set up and that the nightscout folks have set up that are not included in the share, is that correct?
John Costik 24:36
The main missing feature that people really enjoy, is that what folks refer to as raw data. So the ability to see some data during either a restart or a warm up period, or during the dreaded triple question marks. You know, there's there's some visibility data, you're not totally blacked out from that data with nightscout. Whereas, as the standard Dexcom, system will do that.
Stacey Simms 25:11
Let me turn this around for just a moment and play devil's advocate. While many people, obviously 1000s of people use nightscout, and are excited about the Dexcom, share, there are a lot of people who have type 1 diabetes, I'm going to put teenagers in this category, probably a lot of them who feel as though this is a bit overbearing, and who feel as though there needs to come a time when you know, parents, or others, you know, maybe don't have access to their numbers, or that this creates a situation where there's just so much hovering. Now, it's difficult for me to ask you about that, because you're doing this for your family, you didn't do this for everybody else. What's your take on that? And even still pretty little, but what's your take on
John Costik 25:57
that? My take is always in law. And I've always said, you have to you have to find the systems and build your own system to an extent, you know, whether you're selecting devices, or features on those devices, that that suits you, in that time in that context of I have a teenager with diabetes, I have a young child with diabetes. So if you have a teenager that is very trustworthy, and manages their diabetes really well, you know, maybe you're, you're not going to look at that remote monitoring, it's an essential piece. Right. And for folks that may be worried more about their teenagers. I mean, at some point, you you, you do have to stand up and say like, Look, I'm I'm your parent, hovering or not, I want to keep you safe and alive. And I think there probably is a balance that you have to find with the individual child. Right? So if they feel it's really invasive. You How can we make the system less invasive, maybe they don't always have an always on access, but they get alerted to you know, impending hypoglycemia? Right. So there's always ways that since it's an open source system, people could take the system and, and really fine tune it to their particular needs. And for us, with epanet his age, it's less about hovering, and more about actually giving him more freedom. Because us, knowing what his blood sugar is allows him to just be a kid. Right? And it's, we don't he doesn't get bothered nearly as much as he would if we didn't have it. So so there is that sort of aspect that I think gets overlooked, you don't realize that it actually enables more freedom, in most cases?
Stacey Simms 27:45
I think that is a great point. Because it's a parenting question, right? It's not a technical question. The system exists, and it's great. And how you use it is up to you I've shared before I have never used nightscout. It's not something that I first when it first came out, I looked at that and said, we'll break that in about three seconds, if we can even get it set up. It's just not us. And when shear came out, I was one of the people who got the cradle and use it overnight, loved it and never really felt like I needed to get an upgrade because my son is at a point where he's at a terrific school. He's in fifth grade. And I did not feel that I needed to remote monitor because he's at an age. And listen, I can get criticized for this. Or I think it's better for him to make some mistakes, in what I know, after all these years is an incredibly safe and supportive environment. But I got the share receiver. And I use it, as you said, finding it gives him more freedom. There's a tradition in my town, where the fifth graders walk from school on Friday afternoons to our little town and are allowed for like two hours the town tolerates them running around, going to the soda shop, yes, we have a soda shop, going to the green going to the library on their own. And I didn't want him doing that, without at the very least a way to contact me. And we have both found that having the share system. And he only really takes a cell phone to school on Friday so I can see it. He doesn't even need to check in. I know what's going on. I'm not too worried about it. We text about well, what are you going to eat? And how are we going to deal with that. But it's made it so much easier. So as somebody who doesn't remote monitor on a regular basis, that little tool has given him freedom if he was two years old. I mean, my son's diagnosed before he was two, would I feel differently? Probably. But it's it is I think it's more a parenting question than a technical question. So maybe it wasn't fair to ask. You
John Costik 29:36
know, I think it's fine because ultimately I mean, I'm, I'm a parent, there's a lot of all this came out of what I felt were our needs as a family. Definitely one of our, you know, one of our family members safe and happy and to improve the quality of life at all. It does come down to how people you use the tool. It can be very invasive, if you're a parent that is constantly paying that kid to do so. Right So the technology can enable hovering as much as reduce it, I think,
Stacey Simms 30:06
yeah. And ask me again in middle school and ask me again in high school. So you know, these things changes as the kids change, right. And as the setup changes, hey, you also share your information. With some recent guests of mine, I talked to Dana and Scott from the open APS project that do it yourself pancreas system, and they're basically working on the you're operating an artificial pancreas system that Dana has worn for almost two years. Now they close the loop last year, what do you think is going to happen next? What do you look at in technology? And say, yeah, that's going to happen? And I'm going to have that forever? And
John Costik 30:42
that's a good question. So obviously, you know, I want us all to be put out of business, just cure it. Exactly. But if if, if there's a functional cure, whether it's bigfoots product, or Dr. damianos product, or somebody else, you know, whether it's encapsulated islet cells, you know, via site, if they figure it out, and are able to do an implant that reduces the insulin need, significantly, if not eliminated, those those are the sort of things that that make me excited, and I look forward to those and, and Scott, and Dana very clearly showed, like, Look, you need to get this AP stuff rolling, because it can be tremendously beneficial to people with diabetes, right? It reduces their burden makes them much healthier keeps their blood sugar's in range, with a much higher percentage, right? Yeah. So early on, they were I think it was Scott reached out to me saw a couple tweets, he tweeted back and said, hey, how can I get this? So he was one of the folks that I shared the uploader code with early, you know, before it was publicly available for it was open source. You know, I knew you looked into his background, and we talked and it was very clearly the software wise, he was savvy. And so I was happy to share that with with him. And Jason calibres was another person that I gave the uploader to earlier. And Jason Adams, who founded the Facebook group, was another one of these folks that early on, had really reached out to me and got me rolling.
Stacey Simms 32:15
Oh, let me interrupt you here. Why not? Why not? Make it more proprietary? I mean, why? Why make it so easily available? When, obviously, people were clamoring for this and probably would have paid you for it? I feel like I should be twirling my mustache. When I asked you that question.
John Costik 32:32
That was a question. We got a lot, actually. So when people saw our system, even before we made it open source, they said, Oh, that's a million dollar idea. I said, Yeah, but it's not really my idea. Right? Everybody's had this idea. Scott hanselman had the idea 15 years ago, you know, so people we've very smart people know that better, we can access our data, the healthier we're going to be. So this was just, I just happened to be in the right time and right place. And to be honest, I'm not particularly entrepreneurial. So I wasn't super motivated to go out and start my own company and raise funds to get this done and dig my heels in with regulatory issues. You know, it just, again, it was it was me trying to get our simple life back and starting a business around it was would have been a huge risk. And that's something that I was particularly interested in doing.
Stacey Simms 33:22
Are you happy with how it turned out?
John Costik 33:24
Yeah, yeah. I mean, if I had tried to commercialize it, how many people would be using it? Maybe not? Right, maybe it would have fizzled, and people would still perhaps be waiting for the G phi or the share. If if that group hadn't come up and sort of opened the FDA his eyes to that need. So yeah, I think it's, at this point, the best possible outcome I could have imagined and the appreciation from folks, and I don't deserve nearly any that I get, you know, it was a small part of the story. It just happened to be, you know, early on, but just that outpouring of gratitude, I mean, no one could have paid me enough to counter that.
Stacey Simms 34:05
And you are no longer doing software for Wegmans. Which is is that correctly, first of all, which is a fantastic supermarket up in upstate New York and across really the lot of the Northeast that people are familiar with, and I used to shop there all the time when I lived in New York, but you're not there anymore. What are you doing?
John Costik 34:22
So I've moved over to the University of Rochester Medical Center. So I was looking for something in health care, because I knew, you know, that's kind of where my heart was at this point was really to help find similar needs throughout health care. So I didn't want to just do type 1 diabetes work. I really wanted to dig in and see see what else we could do. Across the wide spectrum of, of conditions and, and whatnot. So there was a position open. At the University of Rochester Medical Center, a new group called the Center for Clinical innovation. I came in and got talking with, with the leaders of the group, this surgeon, Dr. Dave Minton. And then Chris de Silva. Were the primary folks in the group. And we kind of hit it off. And I showed him what I built for Evan. And they said, Hey, I think you'd be a perfect fit for our group. And the rest is sort of history. So I left Wegmans at the beginning of June and have been here and working on software that's very patient centric. And
Stacey Simms 35:35
I'm not just for diabetes,
John Costik 35:37
no, not just for diabetes. So the main piece of software that our group has written, will go out to all the clinics, or potentially all the clinics, they'd have to opt in to all the clinics at the University of Rochester Medical Center. So the entire health system, which is a big system, so we've built a tool that can aid all the clinics in gathering and interpreting patient reported outcome data. So that's, that's been a big push. And then I do have some projects that I can't announce yet, for those that are diabetes related, because they obviously know that that's always going to be a passion. So if I can work with the endocrinology groups here, to sort of advanced them along in their technology and how they use it at the clinical level, and how we can ease the movement of patient data to them. And while keeping the patient data, very patient centric, and give them ownership of that data is is sort of sort of a goal there. But there will be some, I'll have some announcements at some point.
Stacey Simms 36:39
That's great. Well, congratulations. It sounds like the perfect job. And it's wonderful for the rest of us who are waiting to see what you're working on.
John Costik 36:46
Yeah, no, it's it's been great. And it's a it's a dream job. I can't complain.
Stacey Simms 36:51
It's nice when those things can happen. Well, I'm curious, does your daughter she's just a couple years older than Evan, right? Does she want the technology if she asked me for a cell phone and that sort of thing.
John Costik 37:01
She does have a cell phone and Pebble watch. But we don't make her run. You know, our watch face on it. But it's for an in basically and we told her it said this is you know, since you have to sit with your brother on the bus anyway, if there were ever an issue where his blood sugar started dropping quickly, we we gave her a tube of glucose tabs and, and a cell phone so we can we can get ahold of her on the phone. You text her and say, Hey, give your brother half a glucose tab, which we've only ever had to do maybe once or twice.
Stacey Simms 37:31
But she said she still likes him probably because I have an older sister younger brother situation here in my house. And when they were under 10 she was super helpful. And now she's a teenager. It's like nothing to do diabetes. It's just your stinky younger brother.
John Kostic 37:43
Yeah, yeah, I could. It seemed that coming.
Stacey Simms 37:47
Still help him she'd always help him. But
John Costik 37:49
I think they're both I mean, I'm biased and all but they're both very sweet and compassionate. How old?
Nine and so yeah,
Stacey Simms 37:57
of course. Yes, of course. Then they always will bait
breaking breakfast time where they can just they're just nice. Okay, yeah.
Stacey Simms 38:08
It's all good stuff. It's all good stuff done caustic. Thank you so much for joining me. I spent a lot of time in upstate New York and central New York. So it's fun to talk to you from the Rochester area, right?
John Costik 38:18
Yeah, you weren't circulator.
Stacey Simms 38:20
I was in Syracuse, Utica. My husband is from Utica.
John Costik 38:23
Yeah, my dad went to cert Su and
Stacey Simms 38:25
excellent. Me too. That's great. Well, thank you so much for joining me and I can't wait to see what you're working on. Next. Please let me know. And we'll get the word out.
All right. Thank you very much.
You're listening to Diabetes Connections
with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 38:44
Quick behind the scenes story about this episode from back in the day. I remember when my editor and I think it was I don't remember it was John Bukenas. Sorry, john, as you're editing this, I don't remember if it was john. Or if I was still working with somebody else at that time. I listened back I proof. Listen, I call it to every episode kind of like proofreading your work. And I got it back. And I was so excited because as you know, I'm so excited by the DIY stuff, even though I don't understand half of it. And I couldn't wait to listen to it till I got home and I was at Benny's baseball game. And it was such a great mom. I'm like, No, I have to listen to this. So I'm listening. I'm walking around near the baseball field, kind of watching the game kind of on my phone. And this was at the time when we did not have share. But he did certainly did not have a cell phone. And we used to hang the Dexcom receiver by a clip on the dugout on the wire mesh of the dugout. We just just hang it there and like casually walk by occasionally or just really rely on the alarms to go off. I love baseball for diabetes. For a slow game. Somebody pauses so many times to treat. I mean, the only thing that's problematic is sliding. And you can kind of figure that out by putting the Dexcom or putting your pump site in different places. But I will never forget right by Davidson Elementary School in the ballroom builds over there walking around and listen to playback of that original episode back in 2015.
Okay, well thank you to my editor john Bukenas from audio editing solutions. Thank you so much for listening. I'm Stacey Simms. I will see you back here next Tuesday for our very next episode. Until then, be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged
The very first treatment to prevent type 1 diabetes for any length of time is in front of the FDA right now. Teplizumab has been show to prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes in people shown to be at high risk of developing it. Stacey talks to Dr. Henry Anhalt of Provention, the company behind the filing. Dr. Anhalt is a pediatric endocrinologist and has a lot to say about what this would mean to his patients.
Listen to our previous episodes on Teplizumab
In Innovations, a round table on insulin pricing with Congresswoman Katie Porter. It didn't have her famous white board, but participants pulled no punches.
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Stacey Simms 0:00
Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario health. Manage your blood glucose levels, increase your possibilities by Gvoke HypoPen, the first premixed auto injector for very low blood sugar, and by Dexcom take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with Dexcom.
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 0:27
This week, the first treatment to prevent type 1 diabetes for any length of time is in front of the FDA right now. We're going to talk about the clinical stuff. But there's a lot of emotion wrapped up in this development as well.
Dr. Henry Anhalt 0:40
I was trained to make people who have type 1 diabetes feel that they're never doing a good enough job, that they're at risk of developing all these complications. And you know, when you get to the point in your career, you realize that not only did that not help hurt, and then really being in a position to hopefully be able to make a fundamental difference and how that goes down. It's really hard to articulate, I have to say,
Stacey Simms 1:05
That's Dr. Henry Anhalt of Provention, the company behind Teplizumab. He's also a pediatric endocrinologist, we'll talk about Teplizumab what is in front of the FDA and why this treatment is so promising.
In innovations. A round table on insulin pricing with Congresswoman Katey Porter didn't have a whiteboard as She's famous for, but pulled no punches. You're gonna want to hear this.
Welcome to another week of the show. I am always so glad to have you here. As you know, we aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin. I'm your host, Stacey Simms, my son, Benny was diagnosed with type one right before he turned two, back in 2006. My husband lives with type two diabetes, I don't have diabetes, but I have a background in broadcasting. And that is how you get the podcast.
We are coming up on year six of the show. And I gotta tell you, I don't get I don't get too excited about breakthroughs or treatments anymore, because we've covered a lot of stuff that frankly hasn't panned out the way we had all hoped. But this is a little bit different. Because Teplizumab is a drug that has already been shown to prevent type 1 diabetes for three years. And for some people, they are coming up on four years. What does that mean? How do we know it's preventing it? Why is it so exciting? And you know, could this mean a breakthrough for everyone with type one, there's a lot to unpack here. So we'll get to that in just a little bit. But we've talked about Teplizaumab before with the folks from trial net, I'll link up this previous episodes at Diabetes connections.com. There's always an episode homepage for each and every episode, which more recently will have the transcription. But for every episode has important links and more information for you.
quick heads up. If you are listening as this episode goes live tonight, Tuesday, I will be with a JDRF with a couple of chapters. Or maybe it's just one chapter now things have moved around a lot for JDRF. But I'll be with the Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico chapters tonight, talking about the world's worst diabetes mom, we're going to have a fun discussion about the book. And if you are in one of those chapters, you're going to get the paperback for free. If you're not in one of those chapters come along. Anyway, I've got some audio books to give away. It's always just fun to talk to you. I'll be reading from the book but having a discussion as well type one talk, it's different times because of the different states and because of where I am. So it's 530 in Nevada and Arizona, and 630 in New Mexico, it will be 830 here in Charlotte, North Carolina, I may be in my pajamas, but I hope you can join me for that. And again, I'll put a link and I've got that out on my social. I've been talking about that on social media for a couple of days.
I've mentioned a couple of times this year that we're focusing on technology. And a lot of that is because 2021 is going to see a lot of FDA approvals, things have been backed up because of COVID. Um, so this year, and next year, I think we're going to see many things kind of bunched up. But some of that technology isn't mechanical, right? It's medical or what we would think of more as biological perhaps. And that's what we're talking about today.
But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario health. And over the years. I find we manage diabetes better when we're thinking less about all the stuff of diabetes tasks. That's what I love partnering with people who take the load off on things like ordering supplies, so I can really just focus on Benny, the Dario diabetes success plan is all about you all the strips and lancets you need delivered to your door one on one coaching so you can meet your milestones, weekly insights into your trends, with suggestions on how to succeed. Get the diabetes management plan that works with you and for you. Darrius published study Demonstrate high impact clinical results, find out more go to my dario.com forward slash diabetes dash connections.
My guest this week is the executive director of medical affairs for Provention Bio. He's also a pediatric endocrinologist and Dr. Henry Anhalt is also very involved with Camp Nejeda. He's on the board there. I believe he was the medical director at one point, but we have spoken to Dr. Anhalt before in that capacity. My cousin goes to camp there he did growing up, I will link back on our episode about camp with Dr. Anhalt because it's a really good one. And especially if you're thinking about diabetes camp, if your local campus happening this summer in person, that's a good one to listen to as well. Provention is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to autoimmune disease. And they are applying for what's called a biologics license application for to please him up for the delay or prevention of type 1 diabetes in at risk individuals that is in front of the FDA right now. There is a gold date here that the FDA has assigned to them of July 2. So we shall see what happens between now and then. But there's an awful lot to talk about unexplained. Here's my discussion with Dr. Henry Anhalt.Thank you so much for joining me and welcome back to Diabetes Connections, it's good to talk to you again.
Dr. Henry Anhalt 6:21
Likewise, Stacey, it's a delight to be back with you again.
Stacey Simms 6:25
Well, I'm so interested in this news, which you know, it's hard to get excited after all this time for me. But this is exciting news. But let's kind of set the stage. If I could talk to me a little bit to just start off here. My listeners are familiar with T one detect the program that JDRF came on the show and talked about in in late December about a new screening initiative and prevention is the company that is I guess, you know, doing the heavy lifting here and doing the work to screen people. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of this project?
Dr. Henry Anhalt 7:00
Well, Stacy, the first thing I wanted to do is to point out that in addition to the T one detect program, we have the type one tested.com website, which will also give people who are going to that website, additional information about screening, it's important that we take a shift in how it is that we look at type 1 diabetes. And as we all know, mostly everyone's experience. And certainly, that's been the case with my patients as a pediatric endocrinologist, they present and they come to attention when they've been having symptoms, when they're not feeling well, when they are noticed to be losing weight. And a parent says, gee, something's wrong, and they go to a doctor and oftentimes are going from one doctor to another until unfortunately, kids and adults are getting sicker and sicker and then ultimately end up in an ICU setting. That's what we used to think about as type 1 diabetes. But we now know that type 1 diabetes is really in three stages, we know it's an autoimmune disease. But the three stages are really important to highlight, because the first stage is when someone has two antibodies that are directed at the pancreas. And those two antibodies are amongst a number of antibodies. But if you have two or more, you have stage one diabetes, even in the absence of having any symptoms or abnormal blood sugars. And we'll come back to that in just a second. Stage Two is when you have those antibodies or more, and you'll have some abnormal blood sugars, but not high enough to either have symptoms, or for anybody to even recognize. And then stage three is, as I mentioned a moment ago, when typically people have symptoms and they end up sick unfortunately, and seeking medical attention. We won't know whether or not someone is in stage one, stage two or stage three, unless they do things like you just suggested and participate in the T one detect program or have their antibodies tested so that they can identify and understand where they are along that continuum. And so we now classify type 1 diabetes as soon as you have two more antibodies, but even in the absence of having abnormal blood sugar, so it's important because as therapies become more and more available, and we know that there are a whole bunch that are now coming along, some of them are pending approval. So for example, Teplizumab which is before the FDA right now. And we hope that the FDA will look at the body of evidence and the safety and the efficacy. And we currently are targeted to have an approval date in the first week of July. But it's also important to realize that there are lots of other medications that are soon to follow, that may also be of use to people who are along this continuum. for us and for the people that we care about. In the type one community, the ability for a drug like Teplizumab provided that the FDA looks at the data and says, yep, we believe it's safe and effective to prevent people from progressing from stage two to stage three. Without that, we won't know who would be a good candidate for that kind of intervention.
Stacey Simms 10:58
I always get a little confused. And I know that for somebody like me, who's a lay person, it seems like we're early on in the research. But the question I always have about the antibodies is I remember years ago with trial net, and they would say things to us like, well, years ago for me when I was learning about trial that they would explain it like, well, kids usually get tested more often than adults, because things can change with children. If somebody has the antibodies, do they always develop the symptoms of type 1 diabetes? Or do we not know that yet,
Dr. Henry Anhalt 11:28
the uptake of testing or the routine screening for people at risk has not been adopted widely. And that's important to highlight. And that's why the JDRF is in the middle of this educational campaign is because the fact is that for all intents and purposes, our colleagues that pediatric endocrinology adult endocrinologist are not thinking about getting antibodies, and certainly in children who you would expect, are at greatest risk. Those who have a first degree relative with type 1 diabetes, a sibling or a parent where we know that their risk of developing type 1 diabetes is 15 fold greater than the general population that it would be more widely adopted. But that's unfortunately not the case. And in adults, are point people don't think so one of the challenges with adults who ultimately develop type 1 diabetes is that the family practice dogs or the endocrinologists who may be are not involved, likely not to be involved, because they are in seeing people who are adults who develop diabetes until their 50s, or maybe their 40s. And they're not thinking about type 1 diabetes, the greater challenge with adults is around the assumption that if you're in your third decade or fourth decade of life, that you do not have type 1 diabetes, but we know that that's not the case, because people into their 50s and 60s are developing type 1 diabetes and are continuing to make insulin but unquestionably have type 1 diabetes.
Stacey Simms 13:21
I'm curious, when T one detect was announced, a lot of people in the diabetes community thought and I agree with them. It was so interesting, it was such a great idea. Like let's get more screening, let's get more screening. But when I talked to JDRF, they said no, we will we want everybody in the diabetes community. But we want people outside the diabetes community to start thinking about this, what can be done to try to push this message into families that you know, don't think that they have to worry about diabetes? How are you all doing that?
Dr. Henry Anhalt 13:49
Yeah, what I really focus on Stacey is the folks who are at risk, okay. And those are the ones with first degree relatives, because we know we have data from global programs where they're doing population screening, they're screening everybody, not only second and third degree relatives of people who have type one, or even first degree relatives, they're screening entire populations. And that's terrific within the context, at least right now, of research programs that are well funded. But we're facing a battle ahead of us as we get people to adopt. And we get the payers and the payer community to recognize the importance, which is part of the educational effort. However, we really need to focus right now for the hearing now, because that's achievable, attainable, and the therapeutic agents that are either before the agency now or that are coming are the ones that are going to be the most likely to benefit. And that's why I think right now at risk is the most important population to look at. Got it.
Stacey Simms 14:57
Let's talk about what's in front of the FDA. I remember A couple of years ago trying to pronounce Teplizumab, and then getting really I know, but getting really excited as it seemed to, and you please fill us in, but it looked like the research was showing this is preventing that movement, as you said, from stage two to stage three, so people have the antibodies that show that they have type 1 diabetes, but it kept them from progressing to showing symptoms for two years. And then it looked like three years recently, am I getting all that right?
Right back to the doctor and hold in just a moment. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Gvoke Hypopen, and almost everyone who takes insulin has experienced a low blood sugar that can be scary. A very low blood sugar is really scary. And that's where Gvoke Hypopen comes in. It's the first auto injector to treat very low blood sugar. Gvoke hypo pain is pre mixed and ready to go with no visible needle. That means it's easy to use in usability studies, 99% of people were able to give Gvoke correctly, I'm so glad to have something different, find out more go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Gvoke logo. Gvoke shouldn't be used in patients with pheochromocytoma or insulinoma visit gvoke glucagon.com slash risk.
Now back to Dr. Anhalt. And I just asked him if I was kind of getting your right that Teplizumab had delayed the onset of type one in people for up to three years.
Dr. Henry Anhalt 16:29
You're getting that spot on Stacey. And I think that here, it's important to stress that how do we know that they're actually having this delay? Are there any markers that we can look at. And C peptide is the key, because for the listeners, it's important to highlight that this molecule or this protein c peptide is a measure of how much function your beta cells have, how much of your actual insulin is being produced. And the studies have shown and the authors concluded that in fact, those treated with Teplizumab had stabilization of their c peptide production, and in some cases actually improved c peptide confirming that the beta cell function is being preserved. And suggesting I may add that beta cell function is being restored. So it wasn't only this delay, but it was a delay that was marked by a direct measurable compound or protein that indicates beta cell health and beta cell function.
Stacey Simms 17:40
When we talk about Teplizumab, what is that? It's I assume it's more than, you know, a pill that you would take once and never have to do again. Is it a treatment? What how do you how do people take it?
Dr. Henry Anhalt 17:50
So Teplizumab and I had a really hard time pronouncing that I started working at Provention Bio in December. And I'm finally getting around to it right. And it wasn't only narrow, actually that I heard about Teplizumab when I was working back in 2008, at a hospital in New Jersey, there were these clinical trials ongoing with tech lism ab. And at the time, I became really familiar and saw what the potential that this drug had. But to answer your question directly Teplizumab is administered by IV infusion over a period, at least in the trials over a period of 14 days as one single infusion. So that's the way that the trial that we're talking about the data that we're discussing, that trial had a 14 day single infusion, so IV infusion every day for 14 days straight. That was the data that we talked about was the outcome of that trial. Ultimately, though, the FDA will make the decision of based on the data that exists, how many days of infusion, etc. Got it.
Stacey Simms 19:14
But to be clear, when we're saying it's three years later, those people that they're measuring three years later had, it's still from those first and only two weeks.
Dr. Henry Anhalt 19:23
That is correct. So people had a two week infusion, and this population was followed out. For quite some time, actually, the recruitment took seven years, but this population has continued and when you have this rolling admission into a trial, it becomes a little bit difficult to to characterize, but suffice it to say based on the appropriate data analysis, that's the conclusion that the authors came to and obviously incredibly encouraged by those results. So with the follow up time, We have nearly a year later, it shows now approximately three years,
Stacey Simms 20:05
I may be jumping to conclusions and correct me if I'm wrong. But I'm sitting here thinking, if my son Benny had gotten something like this at 23 months, and we could have delayed the onset of type 1 diabetes, until he almost went to kindergarten like that, to me, I know that there's more implications down the road, but just the idea that he would be able to communicate a little bit better. With me, maybe he could pronounce diabetes, there would be some other things that we could have some really difficult stages that we could have skipped. And I know that you're looking for a lot more than that going forward. But man, that's so remarkable to think about. And I know everybody listening is thinking in their own families, the milestones that can come in three years, it's really interesting stuff.
Dr. Henry Anhalt 20:49
Stacey, I have to pause when I listen to you tell that story. Because for me, I have only a glimpse of the burden that people living with type one, or parents or caregivers experience, I have a glimpse, because I have the privilege of stepping into the sanctity of a family and being open to hearing these things. But to your point, what is that? What does that mean to a child or to a family that you can have a delay of two years or three years? Or even longer than that? What does that mean? So this ability to do that the data indicating that this can do that can do exactly what you're talking about? It can delay to a time where kids can be more able to communicate signs of hypoglycemia, a kid in college, perhaps, delay until after college, and so on and so forth. So how do you put a measure on what that means for a family? You know, what that means? Two years or three years being insulin independent? How can you describe that to someone who doesn't quote unquote, get it? What that means to a family? So I know, just like you would, from personal experience, what I've heard from my patients and their families, how much that could potentially have meant, and how much that can mean to them going forward?
Stacey Simms 22:31
It really is. It's, I was gonna say, it's fun to think about, I'm not sure that's the right way to say it. Because in my mind, it's kind of fun, because I think about how silly my son was at that age, but it is really encouraging to think about, I'm curious, are there any concerns, side effects, anything that people need to be aware of when it comes to the prism app?
Dr. Henry Anhalt 22:54
So you know, I think that every drug has potential risk and benefit. And we have to be fair and recognize that, however, in the data that's been published, from the trial that we've been discussing the tn 10 study, it was shown that the side effects were manageable, that they were easy to address resolved on their own. And that's consistent with all the other studies that have used Teplizumab. So from our perspective, and looking at the data, we feel that it's appropriate to say, yes, there is always a risk, that the side effects that were seen in any of the trials were expected. And were easily manageable
Stacey Simms 23:48
as we wait to see what the FDA will do. Are you still looking for people to be in studies? You know, my audience is always very interested in that. Are there more studies that people can take part in?
Dr. Henry Anhalt 24:05
Yeah, so we currently have a study ongoing, it's a multinational study multi site in the US called protect. And this study, as opposed to the data that we've been talking about that showed you can prevent progression from stage two to stage three. This is a study for people who are newly diagnosed between the ages of eight and 17 within the first six weeks, and I would urge people if they have any questions, or they need any information to reach out and Stacey you and I can talk about what the best way to have that information or those queries directed because when we talk to people about going online and looking at clinical trials.gov it becomes As a very, very difficult website to navigate.
But suffice it to say that this is a trial where kids between the age of eight and 17, newly diagnosed are given an infusion or placebo of Teplizumab. And they are given another dose, about six months or a year later. Again, this is an infusion. However, it's a 12 day infusion, rather than a 14 day infusion. And there are two infusions over the year. And in that study, were measuring c peptide. And as I mentioned earlier in the podcast, c peptide, is a measure of beta cell function. And so the most important measure for us is beyond hemoglobin A1C how are those beta cells working? How is the residual beta cells producing insulin at this point? And how do they produce insulin after the treatment has given as measured by what we call area under the curve of C peptide production? The amount of C peptide over time, responding to drinking a whole lot of sugar, and seeing where it is that the that the C peptide is produced? I think that that's really an important piece.
I also, Stacey, if I may take liberty and talk about Provention Bio for just a moment. Yes, please do. Because it comes back to camp a little bit. And you may wonder, like, what's the connection? When I first started at Provention Bio, we had a town hall. And you know, if 45, 50 people I don't remember. And the CEO, Ashley Palmer was talking about the importance of us understanding the type one community and I was like, okay, you know, that's words, know, sounds good. And I said, Okay, is a company dedicated to type one? Okay, that sounds good. And so I chatted the group, and I said, you know, I'm on the board of Camp Nejeda, most of us live in the tri state area, I'd be more than happy to host you and to have you guys pink benches, and, you know, do all kinds of cleanup the garbage in between sessions. And he said, You know, that's not here. That's part of your job. And I said to myself, I've worked in other companies that have been in the diabetes space, I have never heard a CEO get up and say, this is your job. It was mind blowing. And I knew then, you know, I was in the right place. Right. So with that sort of as a backdrop, we are really committed to type one. The innovation here is, I think, a landmark in the fact that it will be the first disease modifying if we get the approval, which we hope, the first therapeutic intervention in type 1 diabetes, since the development of insulin, and potentially the only one that is going to be disease modifying. But we're not just there.
And as we spoke about, were in front of the FDA now with the hope that we'll get approval for the at risk population. But we're also in clinical trials to see the ones who are newly diagnosed. So if unfortunately, they've gone on to stage three or symptomatic, or we're also working on a vaccine for coxsackie virus. And so coxsackie has been thought of as a precipitating agent or, or an infection that could potentially provoke or create an immune response that ends up being adversely affecting the pancreas. And the crazy thing is that as a pediatrician, first we would see coxsackie virus all the time. But you know, I have the good fortune of working in a company with a lot of really smart immunologists and I joke and I say, you know, if I would have known immunology was so interesting, maybe I would have paid more attention in medical school. But the fact is, here's another way that we're looking at type 1 diabetes, and the commitment there to innovation is truly remarkable. And I would be remiss if I didn't have the opportunity to state that on this podcast, because I think that speaks to the motivation and it speaks to the genuine commitment to people and their caregivers living with type one.
Stacey Simms 29:53
You mentioned camp, and as we've mentioned a couple of times here you are a pediatric endocrinologist. So you Between the two of those things. You've seen a lot of families over the years, you have probably had a lot of nervous moms and quiet dads in your office with little kids too, grumpy teenagers and independent young adults. I'm curious when you talk about something like to please him on. And you mentioned, as you said, this could be the first therapy, disease therapy it for type 1 diabetes. I know you don't have type 1 diabetes, but boy, are you part of all of those families? Can you speak a little bit about what that means to you?
Dr. Henry Anhalt 30:31
Well, I often joke with people that, you know, I would be more than happy to do anything, including working in my parents’ lingerie store, then taking care of people with type 1 diabetes, not because I hate type 1 diabetes, I do. But it's because I see what happened, what families go through. So for me, what it means to me. If again, if we get approval, I'll feel like I've I finally was able to do something, you know, when you get to the point in your career, when you're working with families who have type one diabetes, and you come to the honest realization that you can't fix it, you no surgeon can go in there and cut it out. But you can't fix it. And the burden really sits with the family, the grumpy teenagers who didn't ask for this. So we're dealing with the intimacy issues, college issues, you name it, the high school kids who are trying to deal with their all the complex issues of psychosocial adjustment to high school and body image, etc. It's unbelievable. So for me as a treating physician, anything, anything. And it's not only templates, a map, but anything that could make them living with diabetes just a bit easier to lift, a little bit of the burden would be incredibly meaningful to me. And that's sort of how I got into this, I was trained to make people who have type 1 diabetes feel that they're never doing a good enough job, that they're at risk of developing all these complications. And you know, when you get to the point in your career, you realize that not only did that not help it hurt, and then really being in a position to hopefully be able to make a fundamental difference and how that goes down. It's really hard to articulate, I have to say,
Stacey Simms 32:31
Did your parents really own a lingerie store?
Dr. Henry Anhalt 32:33
They did. Olga’s corset and specialty shop two Eastern European immigrants who came here penniless trying to build a life for themselves in the golden land.
Stacey Simms 32:45
Isn't that marvelous?
Dr. Henry Anhalt 32:46
That's wonderful. It sure is. It sure is. Yep. Yep. All they wanted us to see their kids, you know, get an education. And of course, you know, me becoming a doctor. I mean, my dad almost ran up to the podium when I got my diploma. He just couldn't contain himself. So yeah, absolutely.
Stacey Simms 33:05
All right. I think we've got everything and more.
Dr. Henry Anhalt 33:08
Yeah, I mean, I would leave you Stacey with, if nothing else, to really, really get the word out for people to screen for dogs to really hear from their families. You know, why don't you screen, I have another kid that to us. And I think to the whole community, now, there's potentially something that can happen. You mentioned trial net, and trial net has done an amazing job in getting tech lism ab to where it is now. And they've done an amazing job at moving the screening field forward. But it's got to get out of the realm of research alone now because now where they're now where potentially at the threshold of a whole bunch of therapies that we hope will get approved and capitalism AB hopefully, if the FDA is happy with the data, and convinced that the drug is safe and effective, which we have great confidence that they will or others coming right behind. So the screening is so critical, Stacey,
Stacey Simms 34:15
thank you so much for joining me, we will link up all of the information and spread the word as best we can. But thanks for explaining everything and come on back, knock on wood. If everything goes through the FDA, come on back and share what's next.
Dr. Henry Anhalt 34:27
I would be delighted to do that.
Unknown Speaker 34:35
You're listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 34:40
More information on everything we talked about at Diabetes connections.com. You can learn more about teplizumab and provention. It's really fascinating stuff. And you know, it's not as easy as you know, one shot and you're done or one pill a day. I mean, it is as he mentioned, a an in hospital procedure, but imagine two weeks of that And then two, three, maybe four years, maybe more of prevention of type one. I mean, what an incredible beginning. I don't get my hopes up often you know me if you've listened for a very long time I I wouldn't say I'm cynical, but I'm certainly not running after every development. But I feel like we've been watching this one for so long, I'm almost ready to put my rose colored glasses on, we'll see, I'll keep you posted on you know what comes out of this, what the FDA decides, and you know, there's going to be a lot more information down the road.
Up next in innovations. f It is time to get cynical again, I'm going to be talking to you and bring you some audio about a roundtable on insulin pricing. So stay tuned for that. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. And you know, when we first started with Dexcom, back in December of 2013, the share and follow apps were not an option. They hadn't come out with the technology yet. So trust me when I say using share and follow apps makes a big difference. I think it's really important to talk to the person you're following or sharing with, get comfortable with how you want everyone to use the system. And even if you're following your young child, these are great conversations to have at what numbers will you text, how long will you wait to call that sort of thing. That way, the whole system gives everyone real peace of mind. I'll tell you what I absolutely love about Dexcom share, and that is helping Benny with any blood glucose issues using the data from the whole day and night and not just one moment. Internet connectivity is required to access separate Dexcom follow app. To learn more, go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Dexcom logo.
Last week, a new group or at least new to me called investigate insulin now partnered with the American economic liberties project and held a discussion about the impact of insulin pricing. I'm going to read you the description from their website.
“Nearly 7 million Americans suffering from diabetes need insulin to live but a cartel of drug companies who control the production of insulin, Eli Lilly Sanofi and Novo Nordisk have made the lifesaving drug criminally expensive by colluding with each other to hike prices in lockstep over and over and over for years.
On March 18, at 12:30pm, the American economic liberties project and the investigate insulin now campaign hosted a discussion focused on the dangerous impacts of the insulin cartel racial inequalities in insulin access, and what Congress and the new Biden administration must do to hold these corporations accountable and address concentration in this critical industry.”
And that is the quote from the website. I'm going to link this up, you can watch the entire discussion. It is less than an hour, but it features Congresswoman Katie Porter, who you may recognize from her whiteboard. Many people just know her from that. But she's part of the oversight Subcommittee on economic and consumer policy. And then the remarks here are from people with the American economic liberties project to an international insulin advocates, the executive director of Social Security works. So there's a lot of people talking here I want to bring you one short clip. This is about a minute long. And this is Matt Dinger. He is a patient, as you'll hear, he is an advocate, and he is a board member at T one International. He has just said that he doesn't know anyone who uses insulin, who hasn't rationed it at one time or another. And he sets up His comments here by saying that at one point he had no insurance for just one month he was switching jobs, and he knew that he would have no insurance for a month. And that resulted in him rationing insulin ahead of time. So he would have a stockpile, and then also rationing after he got the job and had the insurance because he knew his deductible would mean he would be paying $1,000 a month for insulin for the first few months.
Matt Dinger 38:51
I'm lucky to be in the position that I'm in. And even so I'm a job loss away from financial ruin. Because the concentration of economic power when it comes to the price of insulin lies almost entirely in the hands of three companies. I am completely beholden to them. And I'm terrified by that every single day. Corporate concentration and monopolistic behavior by the big three insulin manufacturers allow them to set prices as high as possible, with no fear of losing market share. This includes things like shadow pricing, which is increasing the prices in tandem with one another instead of competing to set the lowest price, pay for delay agreements, lawsuits, taking biosimilar insulins off the market, patent games to extend their product exclusivities long past when they would normally expire.
As someone who has worked in healthcare for the entirety of my professional life. I understand the price of innovation. And let me tell you leveraging anti-competitive practices in order to give your CEO a pay package of $23.7 million isnt innovative. and businesses that would do that while their consumers are dying aren't companies, they’re cartels,
Stacey Simms 40:01
it's pretty powerful stuff. I'll link it up. If you want to watch it, it is less than an hour. The investigate insulin now campaign is a coalition of a bunch of different organizations. And I think we're going to be hearing a lot more from them, because these are some pretty big names that are backing them. And while there's a lot of hope that the new Biden administration will move on some of these, there really has been no indication from Democrats or Republicans, in my opinion on the federal level that we will see strong action taken. So I'll continue to keep you posted on this one as well. I can't imagine the insulin companies are going to take kindly to being called a cartel. I thought that was some very interesting language.
Alright, before I let you go reminder that I will be speaking live to some JDRF folks out west tonight, that's linked up on social media and in this episode, as well. And if you know, if you're listening a couple of days or weeks after this episode airs, I'd love to come to your chapter virtually, or maybe in person down the road. So please reach out we do have an event tab at Diabetes connections.com. And you can always request me to come speak or just you can ping me anywhere, email me directly. I love talking to groups. It's always so much fun. I always learn something as well.
In our classic episode this week, we're going to be talking to a Broadway performer Maddie Trumbull, and she has played lead roles and Wicked and Newsies. And we'll check in with her and see how she has been doing this interview was five years ago now. And of course, the last year has been you know, we've seen Broadway completely shut down. So I checked in with her and I'll let you know what she is up to in our classic episode airing in just a couple of days.
Thank you, as always to my editor John Bukenas from audio editing solutions. thank you as always for listening. I'm Stacey Simms. I'll see you back here soon. Until then. Be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged
Julie Allred received two separate islet cell transplants ten years ago. How is she doing today?
Diagnosed at age 10, Julie was told she would never have children and she wouldn't live to see age 30. She’s proved her doctors wrong on both counts – her daughter was married a few years ago – but she did have a lot of trouble with unpredictable and debilitating lows in her 30s. These lows were so unpredictable and dangerous that she not only stopped driving, she barely left her house. Then she found out about a clinical trial of islet cell transplants.
This interview was first aired in January 2016
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Stacey Simms 0:00
This episode of Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Inside the breakthrough, a new history of science podcast full of did you know stuff.
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 0:19
Welcome to a classic episode of the show. As always, I'm thrilled to have you here. Glad you could join me. And these classic episodes are where we revisit terrific interviews, really great guests from the early years of this show that you might have missed the first time around.
There is a new excitement right now about islet cell transplants, this thinking has been around for a while. But the problem has been that once the cells are transplanted, they're immediately attacked, you know, so the islet cell trials of the late 90s and early 2000s, didn't pan out the way that we had hoped. But new science, new technology is showing a ton of promise. And we're going to do some future episodes on what's in the works. There are at least two really big projects moving to clinical trials. I'm thrilled about this because it always seemed like it made so much sense. And this kind of stuff was around right as we were coming into the community, me and Benny and my family 14 years ago, it was kind of the tail end of when they realized that while it worked well for some, it wasn't going to be the cure type of research for many, many people that it had shown so much promise to be. But it really is important to remember that islet cell transplants worked really, really well for some people and you're going to hear from one of them today.
I spoke to Julie Allred in January of 2016. More than five years ago now. She was diagnosed at age 10. And she was told she would never have children and that she would not live to see 30. She has proved her doctors wrong on both counts. Her daughter was married herself few years ago. But Julie did have a lot of trouble as she moved into her 30s with unpredictable and debilitating lows. These low blood sugars were so unpredictable and so dangerous that she not only stopped driving, she barely left her house, you'll hear her talk more about that this was not your typical low that almost everybody who uses insulin has experienced. Then she found out about an islet cell transplant clinical trial. She shares the whole story and I'll give you more of an update on how she's doing in just a moment. Spoiler alert. She's doing amazing.
This episode of Diabetes Connections is supported by inside the breakthrough a new history of science podcast full of did you know stuff. The most recent show is all about unpopular science. One of the stories, it's bonkers. It's about a scientist who discovers the importance of washing your hands. The death rate at his hospital drops once he starts telling people to do this. But then they think he's insane. They discredit his theory and they lock him up and they stop washing their hands. You have to hear it. You can find inside the breakthrough wherever you found this podcast, and this podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
Judy Allred had two islet cell transplants, one in 2011 and one in 2012. She is going to tell the whole story here in just a moment. But I want to give you a quick update on how she is doing now. 10 years later, she says she still uses just a few units of basil insulin a day. She does wear an omnipod but she says she uses it just for basal. She very rarely boluses. And she says the only time she goes low is if she quote makes a bad decision when bolusing for food because she's so rarely does it anymore. This really changed her life. I should also mention that I know Julie because she was our elementary school nurse. That's who I got to send a little Benny to when he was in grade school. How lucky was I?
Julie Allred. Thank you so much for joining me.
Julie Allred 3:57
Thank you for having me, Stacey. I'm excited to talk with you. Yeah, I think this
Stacey Simms 4:00
is gonna be fun. It's always great to. For me, it's always interesting to learn things about people with type 1 diabetes, but it's also fun when I get to talk to to a friend. So thanks for agreeing to do this. Tell me your story. Yeah, tell me your story. You were diagnosed with type one, when you were just 10 years old, right?
Julie Allred 4:20
I was 10 years old and that was in the late 70s. So why can I tell people always that was before we had all the technology of course that we have today before we had manmade and storm. No glucometers we didn't even have Diet Coke. You know, what was that good old unsweet tea with a saccharin tablet. Those were your choice.
Stacey Simms 4:42
That's amazing to think about. How did you how did you manage diabetes before home meters.
Julie Allred 4:50
There was no homie here correct. So I use urine that we put in the test tube with some little tablet sets. He has done turn colors and it was a good gang. If you only do that, if you felt bad, there was no certain schedule to when you tested your urine. And as you're probably aware, urine sugar in your urine shows up about six hours after it shows up in your blood. So really, when you tested that urine and found out, you know, you had sugar there, it was well beyond the time that your blood sugar would have been half. And you didn't do anything about it. When you saw it there, you just made you aware, there was that insulin you took in the morning insulin, you took it bedtime. And in the middle of the day, there was nothing, there was no sliding scale, there was no carb counting. Nothing like that we ate by the exchange diet, which some people may be familiar with, and maybe not the day, but so many carbs, so many fats, and many fruits and vegetables. So all the things that everybody is familiar with now all the technology, all the things we have to keep ourselves healthier and and make things easier for non existent bands.
Stacey Simms 6:04
Now I've heard you speak and you've talked about how the doctor said you were not expected to live to 30 that you would never have children. Of course, you do have a great a daughter who I've met. But But did they really tell you that? Or was that something you were just aware of?
Julie Allred 6:20
They never told me I found that out and my 30th birthday party. Because my husband had a birthday party for me, of course, my family came my daughter was three at that time. So uh, my mom's sitting in the corner crying, you know, we're having a party, I'm like, what's wrong. And that's when I found out when she told me there, that when you were diagnosed, they shared with us that you were not expected to live to age 30. And that you definitely would not be able to have children that was just not in the cards for people who are diagnosed. And again, you know, diagnosis, disposable syringes were the new thing. So just all the technology that that has come about, exist in the time that I've been living with diabetes is amazing.
Stacey Simms 7:07
I'm just trying to have the perspective that your, your mom,
Julie Allred 7:10
your mom had? Well, I think about that. And you know, you mentioned I'm a school nurse, my school nurses, when I was a little girl that That being said, I didn't check my blood sugar at school. So mom packed my lunch, I ate that. But other than that there was not really anything, per se to do for me at school, you know, unless I complained about not feeling well, or something the teacher would call her but they're just the things that are available today. The things that we do today to manage things so closely. We're just not available Batman. So yeah, it was not a concern.
Stacey Simms 7:46
I'm just trying to think of her being told you would not live to be 30. And then being at your party, must have been an incredible ride for her. But as you got older, you began to have some real difficulties living with diabetes. I know you had a lot of episodes of low blood sugar. Tell me about that.
Julie Allred 8:05
My dad, so I did very well, I actually, you know, got a insulin pump in 1990, of course, glucometer in the early 80s. So I was kind of always trying to stay on the cutting edge with technology and have the newest latest and greatest thing to help me manage. And I did really well. I still was doing really well as far as how I had managed, not that I always did absolutely everything I should the best I should. But I had been fortunate enough to not to experience any of the complications that are a lot of times associated with type one didn't have any problems with my kidneys, I had great steel. None of those things that a lot of times people began to have problems with as they move into 30 plus years with type one. And I was 34 years with type one, the problem that I was experiencing, experiencing was those unrecognizable low blood sugars. And that started probably in 2007 or eight somewhere around there. It it became more difficult for me to know when I was having a low blood sugar, the symptoms changed. And they became less evident to me. And as time went on, they just eventually just went away. I didn't have any signs or symptoms until I was so low that I couldn't help myself. I would get to the point where I realized that I needed to do something that at that point, I couldn't do anything for myself. I had to rely on someone else. So you were in that slow traveling.
Stacey Simms 9:46
You were driving, right?
Julie Allred 9:49
I was driving. And many times I would even was married that's my daughter who was now will be 21 next week at that time she was you know in her Team so not driving yet but a couple times we'd get to a stop sign or a stoplight and she would put the car in park and take the keys away and call my husband because she knew you know that it wasn't safe. And I did have a couple episodes where I ran off the road. Fortunately for me, and others never hurt myself or anyone else. But it the discussion, the next discussion at my doctor's appointments going to be taking my driver's license away, because that was unsafe.
Stacey Simms 10:27
It's so scary to hear about.
Julie Allred 10:29
All that being said, I still had the latest and greatest, I still have the newest pilots. I had a dexcom CGM. At that point. I was doing all I needed to do. And of course, my medical team was doing all they need to do to help me. It was just that that was my complication. I guess you can put it that way. But I just was not able to feel those lows and do anything about them. And enough time to help myself.
Unknown Speaker 10:55
Is that how you get into work was
Julie Allred 10:57
not an option either. Yeah, I was working about 10 hours a week was all I could manage?
Stacey Simms 11:02
Is that how you were able to get a trial?
Julie Allred 11:05
Yes, that is how I was able to get into the trial because I laugh and tell you how to be a fairly healthy, unhealthy diabetic to qualify for the study that I participated in. That being said, you could not have any kidney issues, all those things that I talked about that I was fortunate not to have experience. But the low blood sugar. The hypoglycemic unawareness was the key to qualifying for the study I participated in. So they asked me about how many low blood sugars I thought I had in the past year, that one of my first visits, I have no idea. I was horrible. I was mad at writing down my blood sugars. But we went back and looked at at the month, at one month that had passed. And from that guesstimated that over a 365 day period, I probably had 300 I think we came up with 386. Wow. was until a by definition for them a low of anything. 54 below.
Stacey Simms 12:05
Oh my gosh.
Julie Allred 12:07
Right. Wow. How did you
Stacey Simms 12:09
feel during this time? Was this something that you were used to? Or was it did you feel lousy every day?
Julie Allred 12:17
No, I said, I felt bad. And and the left felt bad. But I didn't realize how bad I felt. A lot of it was my normal. I slept a lot. You know, when I was at home. I felt like I never slept well. And I guess I probably didn't two, between two and three a 3am was probably my worst time. That's when I would have the most severe loads. And of course, you know, everybody else is asleep, too. So that makes it even more difficult. But I just always my, my constant thought was when I could lay down if I got up to do something, it was how quick Can I get finished with it. So I can sit back down so I can lay back down. Because to me all I saw, you know, 15 minutes of laying back down, and I'll feel better. And that was just never the case.
Unknown Speaker 13:10
Julie Allred 13:12
I didn't do and the probably the year, year and a half before my transplants I was became pretty isolated. I didn't say that at the time. But I say that now, I just didn't go and do things. I didn't go out of the house a lot would find an excuse not to go to a party or you know not to go to dinner with somebody because I was always afraid of what was going to happen when I was there. And I of course didn't do anything by myself. Nothing. I didn't even go to the grocery store alone. Somebody was with me all the time. So that was very frustrating for me. And for my family. Of course, let's talk
Stacey Simms 13:50
about the clinical trial, you have been through two procedures right for transplanted pancreatic islet cells, the cells that produce insulin in 2011 and 2012. And I'm gonna I'm gonna walk through this, so tell me if I get this right. But this is the operation where basically they they put the islet cells into your into the liver, right, which helps. And then they take over the job of making insulin. When you went through this, did you know was it the kind of trial where and I forgive me for my ignorance? Are there people getting placebo islet cells? Or is it all everybody gets the real thing because you're going through surgery and you know,
Julie Allred 14:33
right? Everybody gets the real thing? That's correct, because these are human hours that are that are donated from organ donors just like any other organ would be donated. So they use the whole pancreas normally for a pancreas transplant. But a lot of times even when you have a donated pancreas, it can't be used because in the process of organ donation, you know, of course thanks at a higher level some things at a higher level level than others, the kidneys and pancreas work together in the body and to to isolate both of those organs. Of course, the kidneys are more useful, you have two kidneys, those can go to two separate people, all the necessary blood vessels that are needed to do those transplant go to the kidneys. First, the pancreas is next on the list. So a lot of times even though you have a pancreas that may be suitable to use, you don't have all the necessary blood vessels that go with them. So that keeps it from being available for transplant as a whole organ. So what they do is use that organ and isolate the eyelet sales from that pancreas and transplant them. And that is how I received the alpha cells I received. How, yes, that's what see those on the waiting list for a heart or, or lung or kidney or whatever, and the head has to be matched in the same way you have to go through all those all those same steps. And then check with your organ donor.
Stacey Simms 16:00
Do you then after the surgery take immunosuppressant medications?
Julie Allred 16:06
Yes. How is that because everyone that
Stacey Simms 16:09
I'm sorry, Julie, everyone that I've heard talking about this, they always say, Well, that sounds great. But the drugs you have to take to prevent rejection are so harsh. How is your life since then?
Julie Allred 16:21
Well, it took a little bit in the beginning to get all those things regulated. And and I'm not saying it was easy. But it was a lot easier than what I had been going through. So taking those five or six pills a day seemed like nothing to me, compared to the life I had been living compared to the to a low blood sugars to not being able to work, all those things that have, you know, had gone on before. I did have a little problem with Jia upset in the beginning. But again, it's just getting all their things regulated, you know, for each individual. And that happens with anybody with a transplant. And once that happens, I did not experience any terrible side effects. I still take those medications on two times a day on a daily basis. And they're just part of just part of my life. Now, a lot of people say, Oh, you have to take pills now. I do. But all those other things that were issues or are not issues anymore. And I guess it depends on how you look at it. And it was a wonderful trade off for me. I would do it 100 million times over again, all the all the bad parts, the good parts, were just a million times better. Well, here we are five years ago, there were issues right here we are almost five years later. And when I been here, kind of not participated in that study, I would say I would not be unfortunately. And I am I have a driver's license, I work a full time job I volunteer I'm engaged in, in the life of my child and able to participate and do things that I have always wanted to do. But always felt a little bit hesitant to do and especially in this, you know, four to five years prior to the transplants that I just didn't allow myself to do those things. So people say well, you have a normal life, not really life like I've ever known. That's a good point.
Stacey Simms 18:21
Tell me about what you do for diabetes because I remember reading that initially at least after the surgery you still worn insulin pump Do you still check your blood sugar? What do you do now? Do you consider yourself cured?
Julie Allred 18:34
If you can't say cure technically and no I'm not because I did were the insulin pump after the first transplant because even though those eyelets were working, I didn't get the equivalent number of hours to what you know a normal person would have. So I continue where my insulin pump I went from taking 75 units and on a day to 11 units between that first and second transplant and then after the second transplant I was insulin free for 96 days completely insulin free. Again I had a little issue with some of the medications and of course the major side effect to those medications or damage to your kidneys and or pancreas. So they did damage I had some toxicity to one of the medications and they believe they damage the islets a little bit. So I started back on insulin and June after the second transplant unsavoury of 2012. And I've taken a small amount of insulin at bedtime since then,
Stacey Simms 19:39
but that's it. You're not wearing an insulin pump currently.
Julie Allred 19:41
I'm not wearing it and so on top. I do not have low blood sugars. I do not have high blood sugars. Do I eat whatever I want. Not whatever I won't I just don't think that's in me. I mean, there's still that there's still always that After in the bathroom, I'm always thinking about what I'm eating, how many cards bed what you know, what would that do? What is it going to do now? Because that's part of being in the study? Is there not a lot of answers what to expect in the future? That's part of participating in the study is, we will let them know what to expect in the future just by following us. And there were 273 participants in the study that I've participated in. So we're part of what's going to happen in the future. They're getting all that information from us. So yes, they still follow me. Yes, I still check my blood sugars and provide them with that data.
Stacey Simms 20:36
But would you mind if I asked him, please don't answer if it's too personal. What is your typical blood sugar?
Julie Allred 20:42
And my last day once he was 6.20? Wow. Yeah, right there. Again, right on the edge. Technically, if you look at the textbook standard, Dima non diabetic, maybe not. But I'm a million times better than I've ever been absolutely. Great.
Stacey Simms 21:00
Before we leave this part behind, because I definitely want to talk about the school nurse component. Tell me about the
Unknown Speaker 21:09
visit the rosebowl
Unknown Speaker 21:11
talk, tell me about right.
Stacey Simms 21:12
Yeah, the Rose Parade. Tell me about the Donate Life. Rose Parade, the float that you were in for Donate Life.
Julie Allred 21:19
Right. So in 2000, January 2014, I was the first islet cell recipient to add on the Donate Life float in the Tournament of Roses Parade. And so I ratters on that. Riders on that float are all transplant recipients, and all the float as well, or floor graphs or pictures of donors that are honored on the float. And then there are also people who walk around the float and those people are living donors. So they've all usually donated kidney. And Donate Life has had a float in the rows pray for I believe this was the 12th or 13th year. So I was sponsored by Emory Transplant Center to go and represent Emory transplant and outsell recipients on the donate lifeflight. What was that? That was amazing. Very, that was an amazing experience. So you know, I've always watched the Rose Parade on TV and think how fabulous that is and and realize it Yeah, that's a big deal. That's a big parade. But I had no idea until I went participated in the whole event. And we were there for six days, you know, a few days leading up to the price. So I was honored to be able to help decorate the float place all those, you know, some of those roses on that float. So the donatelife float, the bottom of the float is always decorated with resins that are dedicated either in honor of memory or memory of someone. So they all have a personal tag with a handwritten note. And so I was honored to be able to place those verses on the float. And the rule is that you read every note on every rose before you put it on the float. So that was that was really a special experience for me, David, my husband got to go with me and help. As we decorated, we spent three days helping decorate the float. And then of course, I read it on the slide on New Year's Day. But again, a tremendous once in a lifetime experience to meet so many wonderful people from all over the country and other parts of the world as well. transplant recipients, donor families and those special living donors. Wow,
Stacey Simms 23:28
that's an incredible experience. I was so exciting to see you part of that. So Julie, we've known each other for few years, because of the local jdrf chapter, you've done so much work with them. And, you know, I was on the board for a while there and we've kind of circled around each other. But then a couple of years ago, you became our school nurse. And so I have to put a caveat out there as we begin this conversation, I promise I'm not going to ask you anything specific. I understand the HIPAA laws and I understand the constraints you may be in. Because you know people may know what school you work at. But I just thought it would be a great opportunity. Because I talked to a lot of parents who have difficulty dealing with their school, the school nurse or the school principal, or teachers don't seem to understand the needs of kids with type 1 diabetes, they they may insist that the kid go to the nurse for every single thing. They may be frightened of the kid. And I was just curious if you could share some advice. I know you and I have such a wonderful relationship and we never give you any trouble and our child is an angel so we'd have to go down that road.
Julie Allred 24:34
But they all of course,
Stacey Simms 24:36
what but you know, it's interesting before, I should point out, we have four kids at our school with type 1 diabetes, all of whom manage very differently. It was very different, right? Not even in terms of the technology because there's different pumps. One child has been on MDI until very recently, transitioning from injections, but every parent is so different. And it's been a lovely experience because the school has Never said to any of us, you need to do it this way. What's your advice for parents, though, for working with this, right?
Julie Allred 25:06
The biggest piece of advice I can give to parents is to meet with your teacher and meet with your school nurse. I guess I'm sort of at an unfair advantage when it comes to managing my children and helping them manage at school and the relationship I can have with them, because I've lived with type 1 diabetes, and that that does give me a very different perspective. As you know, and as most of the parents know, the understanding that the the general population has a type one is sometimes a huge misconception. And, and to help them understand the communication between between the parent, the teacher and the school nurse is the key. They have to be able to understand and you are the person to help them understand your child. The other part is that every child is different. And I think that's hard. Sometimes for teachers, especially a little bit hard for the nurses as well, because there is no black and white with type one. Every child is different, every day is different. Sometimes every minute is different. And you just have to be able to go with the flow a lot of times and so there's not all you can't always answer every question for them and give them give them an example of everything that might happen. You know, in a school day, it's all about communicating again, with a parent, the teacher, thing about that school nurse as a teacher communicating with the child. Like your son, a lot of these children are diagnosed at a very early age. And even sometimes by the time they get to kindergarten, they've been doing this a while. Yeah, they know a lot about type one. They know a lot about how domains things themselves. And sometimes that's hard for people to understand that a kindergartener really can't check their own blood sugar, they really do understand, you know, how this technology works, that these kids do. So having that relationship with the child, for the school nurse to have that relationship and the teacher, to have that relationship with the child and keeping the lines of communication open, I think is the most important thing. Again, because they all managed differently. Nobody way is right or wrong, nobody has better than another's. It's all based on that that particular individual child and what works best for them.
Unknown Speaker 27:35
What I love about you, and if you
Julie Allred 27:37
can continue what you do at home, if you can continue that at school, it just makes it so much easier for everybody, for the parents and for the children. And the teachers, I think and the nurses say eventually that it makes it easier for them as well.
Stacey Simms 27:50
Oh, yeah, you don't want to change management, I was just gonna say, what makes me laugh. And what I love about you, too, is you do know this so well, that, you know, My son has gone through times where he's been, oh, my diabetes, or he'll give somebody that puppy dog eyes. Oh, and you don't get into any of that. It's great. You're just like, Look, I know what you're doing. I know where I've been, you know, go back to class or, you know, we'll deal with it or whatever. And I think that that perspective is so valuable and wonderful, they really appreciate that. But if if a parent is, really, I think a lot of this comes from fear. That there there may be, as you said, misconceptions, and I see a lot of parents, especially online, who will write things and they're just on Facebook, they don't really mean it, I think half the time, like I'm going to go to school, you know, I'm going in swinging, or I'm really upset, and I'm going to give them a piece of my mind. Can you speak to that for just a moment, just in terms of, you know, trying to, I always tell people, you know, approach as a team, even if you hate these people, they got your kid for eight hours a day.
Julie Allred 28:52
Right? They do. And I can say, not as a parent of a child with type one. But as, as a type one who works with these children that have type one and, and I know, I feel like where they're coming from a little bit better, maybe then not better than a parent does. But in a different way than a parent. I get it that it's hard to trust someone the first time that you send them out of your sight. To know that they're going to be taken care of like you take care of them at home. So again, approaching it like you said, as a team, sit down with everybody don't have the separate meeting with the teacher and the nurse, everybody meet together so that you're all hearing the same thing at one time you come up with a plan that works for everybody, because a lot of times nurses not aware of every the schedule in every classroom, and a lot of times everybody in the second grade does things pretty much the same, but a lot of times they don't So again, it's knowing all the specifics of what goes on even hour to hour during the day and how we can best manage that during the day. And then what do we do? If there's a problem? You know, who's responding, who's gonna call Who? And then even comes down to sometimes, you know, does the nurse needs to call the parent? Or does the teacher need to call the parents? And just coming up with the sample the answers to questions like that, but don't get you bogged down during the day, when there's so many other things going on. Meaning as a team, listening, what the child has to say to is very important, because they're the one living in that environment. They know what they're comfortable with. They know how comfortable the teacher how comfortable they are with the teacher, how comfortable they are with the nurse, how long does it take them to get to the nurse? If they're not in their classrooms, if they're in another area of the building? You know, how long does it take to get there? What should we do then involve the child because again, these kids are smart. Most of them are very independent. And they have a lot of good ideas and information that I think we need to consider and take into, you know, taking into consideration when we're making the plan for the for the school day. It's great advice. A lot of it is to I think people are very intimidated by the fact you know, especially a new teacher, maybe who's never dealt with this. Again, sharing with him and showing them bringing the child before school starts if you can, if they're newly diagnosed tremor day or two before they're going to be there a whole day, and let them see the child checking their own blood sugar, administering their own insulin, using their insulin pump, that they really are independent. A lot of times when they do they need a second set of eyes. Do they need adult supervision? Yes, they do. But many times, that's just what it is supervision, double checking. These kids know what to do. Yeah, that's
Stacey Simms 31:59
a great point. We've done that with a lot of teachers. And once they realize that they're that they're not going to become a nurse or doctor while they're to die. That really assuages a lot of fear.
Unknown Speaker 32:09
So Julie, what's next for you? Does
Stacey Simms 32:11
this those trials continue indefinitely? Do you go back for periodic checkups? Are you scheduled for more surgery if I can be super nosy and ask
Julie Allred 32:20
right now, just yearly checkup? am considering another transplant that's kind of out there on the horizon? It may be a little while. And then there are all those things like encapsulated owlets that are going on right now. So there will be another adventure for me, let me just say that I'm just not sure what it is yet. But in the meantime, I'm happy to be working in school to be sharing my experience with these kids. And people say you know, you've had such success. Yes, I have. Has it changed my life? Absolutely. It has has it changed the life of my family? Yes. But it's also changed the lives of other people. I said, this goes way beyond me. Hopefully it's changed, eventually will change your life safety and the lives of all the kids and all these parents and they're dealing with this on a daily basis. And whatever they learn from me, whatever successes I have, whatever mistakes that we've experienced, we learn from it all. And so the hope is that down the road, we're all going to have the experience of living those days without type 1 diabetes. That's that's just what I'm looking forward to.
Stacey Simms 33:38
You know, I love doing this podcast, but it is hard to be a news interviewer when I'm trying not to cry. I tell you, Julie, when you talk about this, I don't know if it'll be this type of transplant, or it'll be encapsulation. But I know that the information that comes from people like yourself, who who sacrificed I know, you say it's good that you did it. It's wonderful. But you've sacrificed a lot to to get to this point. I know that information will help people and thank you so much for doing that.
Julie Allred 34:09
Absolutely, I would I would do it a million times again. Julie, thank
Stacey Simms 34:13
you for talking to me for sharing your story for making me cry. That wasn't fair. I really appreciate you joining me today.
Julie Allred 34:21
Absolutely appreciate you speaking with me and appreciate our friendship, and all that you do for the tight bond community. I mean, you are the go to person in this area. And we love hearing you and we we truly appreciate all the information that you get out to us, sometimes on a minute to minute basis. It's really it's valuable information. And if people ask me again, why I'm still you know, involved because it's, it's part of who I am. I want the best, not only for myself, but for all of you as well. And it's just it takes it takes the whole community to support each other and we need to continue that support and we thank key for all you do to provide support to the type one community.
Stacey Simms 35:03
I'm leaving it there because I'm gonna start bawling.
Unknown Speaker 35:10
You're listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 35:16
I'm gonna link up some stories that were done on Julie in the past and some information on clinical trials and islet cell transplantation. I'll put that on the show notes at Diabetes connections.com. And the episode homepage as always has a transcription, I do have to share one embarrassing story. It's embarrassing for me. I remember hearing Julie speak for the very first time Vinnie was not yet in elementary school, so and she was not even at that school yet as a school nurse. But I heard her speak at a jdrf event. And I'm embarrassed because I kind of didn't believe her. I was in a moment of time. And I don't know how you reacted when your child was diagnosed, or when you had your own diagnosis. I did not want to hear about cure, I was very cynical, I was closing my heart to those things. I just didn't want to hear it. I just wanted to get through the next couple of years of learning how to do this and keeping him healthy. And that was just my reaction. And when she spoke about islet cell transplantation, I was not in the right place to hear the message, as some people might say, and I talked to her afterward, I don't think she even knows this. And I was just kind of politely nodding. And people were saying, you know, oh, you should talk to her for your blog, because I was blogging at that time. And, you know, it was on the local radio. So you talk to Julia, what a cool story in my head, I'm going well, I'm not gonna do this. This is false hope this is good for anybody. And this is going to work. You know, I think I was just in the wrong state of mind. And so I'm glad I spoke to her. I'm glad I learned more about her story. And that, of course, when I started the podcast, she was one of my first guests very excited about the future of islet cell transplantation. Sure what she went through is not a cure, and it didn't work for everybody. But you can hear how much her life changed. Absolutely amazing. I'm thrilled. Think about all the stuff that they learned from it. Just great.
Okay, coming up next week, I'm talking to the people from Pro vention. I say it very clearly, it's not prevention, it's prevention. This is the company behind to please him up, which I say as clearly as I can. That is the drug that is showing such promise of delaying the onset of type 1 diabetes. It is in front of the FDA right now. We'll be explaining the whole thing. But the great folks from prevention. By the way, the gentleman who works there that I'm talking to is not only a pediatric endocrinologist, he is a diabetes camp guy. He's the director of a big diabetes camp. And so he gets it and he gets emotional just like the rest of us. I really enjoyed talking to him. That's next week. Thank you so much to my editor john bukenas from audio editing solutions. Thank you so much for listening. I'm Stacey Simms. I'll see you back here next week. Until then, be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged