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A Needle-Free Option for GLP-1 Therapy Submitted to FDA

By Becky Milner

A company called Intarcia has developed a GLP-1 mini-pump that is implanted under the skin to continuously provide medication for six months at a time – this needle-free option is now awaiting FDA approval!

The possibility of this technology is exciting for people with type 2 diabetes – it means that people who take the drug would not need regular needle injections, a common barrier to GLP-1 agonist therapy. Because GLP-1 drugs are usually injected once a day or once a week, this means that someone using this pump could avoid 365 needle injections in a year!

The device itself is about the size of a matchstick, and it is inserted in a five-minute procedure in a healthcare professional’s office. The FDA is expected to make an approval decision by March 9, 2020.

If approved the Intarcia implant would be the second non-needle GLP-1 therapy coming to market. Recently the FDA approved “Rybelsus”, an oral (pill) GLP-1.

There is tremendous enthusiasm about GLP-1 from expert scientists and clinicians. In fact, at AADE in August, Dr. Painter advised the audience of hundreds of diabetes care and education specialists, “Just get your patients on any GLP-1!” While we know this was slightly exaggerated, there is so much enthusiasm for a reason – great impact for so many people on A1C, time in range, weight loss, less hypoglycemia than mealtime insulin, and for many people, improved heart health. There are also terrific patient access programs associated with GLP-1, and we urge all people with type 2 diabetes who want to improve their diabetes management to learn more!

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