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Medtronic and Qualcomm Partner To Develop Fully Disposable Professional CGM for Type 2 Diabetes

Updated: 8/14/21 5:00 amPublished: 6/6/16

Coming in 2-3 years. How will it give patients and providers better advice? 

Medtronic and Qualcomm just announced a global partnership to jointly develop a next-generation professional continuous glucose monitor (CGM) for people with type 2 diabetes. They hope to launch a product in two to three years that is single-use (fully disposable), prescribed in a healthcare provider’s office and worn one-time or one week every six months or so (in professional lingo, this is called “intermittently”), significantly lower-cost, much easier to start up and use, and smaller to wear on the body. This improved “professional” or “intermittent” CGM sensor aims to bring many of the benefits of 24/7 CGM technology to people with type 2 diabetes: real-time feedback, more comprehensive glucose data, and better (meaning, more productive, less stressful) discussions with the healthcare team. Professional CGM is sometimes reimbursed by Medicare and insurers, meaning patients who cannot get a real-time CGM can ideally still get some of the benefits from this type of system. That said, many deductibles and co-pays are higher across the board in the US these days, so it will still be challenging for many to be able to access this product for free right off the bat.

How will this work? The new Medtronic/Qualcomm sensor will get a glucose reading every five minutes and operate in both blinded (meaning you don’t see the data) and real-time mode. This is different from Medtronic’s current professional CGM (iPro2), which is applied in the office and only works in blinded mode – glucose data is only downloaded and shown after the sensor is worn (no real-time data, which some patients understandably think is a drag!). In the new “real-time” mode, Medtronic and Qualcomm hope to add behavior change coaching (i.e. giving users feedback on their glucose data), helping people with type 2 diabetes take action on glucose trends.

The product has other planned advantages over Medtronic’s iPro2:

  • Fully disposable (the iPro2 has a reusable transmitter that healthcare providers own)

  • It is intended to be “significantly cheaper” than iPro2

  • Easier to startup and use (the iPro2 is still a bit involved and not that easy, at least relatively speaking, for someone without CGM expertise)

  • Smaller size on the body and wear time for 6+ days (exact size and wear-time difference are still unknown)

A few sensor design details are not yet known:

  • How will the sensor store and communicate data (i.e., will it talk to a mobile app, a receiver, or a home hub)?

  • Will the new sensor need any fingerstick calibration, like the iPro2 does?

  • How much smaller and cheaper will it be?

  • Which people with type 2 diabetes will benefit from this product, and what actionable insights will Medtronic provide?

What else can we compare this to? A similar professional CGM is Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre Pro (technically a professional “flash glucose monitor”), which was submitted to the FDA in 2015 and could launch in the US this year. FreeStyle Libre Pro is also fully disposable, lower-cost, and much easier to use, though it doesn’t give real-time glucose data like the regular FreeStyle Libre or traditional CGM. However, it doesn’t require any fingersticks – users put it on, wear it for 14 days, and return to a provider to download the glucose data.

The work with Qualcomm is another move towards Medtronic’s ambitious goal of becoming “the #1 glucose monitoring company for people with type 2 diabetes” (this new goal was added last spring) with goals to serve “20 million patients by 2020.” That’s a lot of patients – and there are so many, out of 415 million across the world, who could benefit from this device, particularly those with an A1c over 7% or with dangerous hypoglycemia. This partnership reminds us of two related Medtronic type 2 CGM announcements from the past six months: a partnership with distribution company Henry Schein that will help bring professional CGM to primary care physicians, and the launch of ‘Pattern Snapshot’ (a one-page report to more easily interpret iPro2 CGM data). Medtronic is also working with the IBM Watson supercomputer, aiming to create a personal diabetes assistant to give patients better advice and personalize care. –AB/AJW/KC

What do you think?