What's New in Diabetes Care?
If you've had diabetes for a while, you may be comfortable with your care routine. But as Dina Lejcher, a certified diabetes educator for Allina Medical Clinics at Coon Rapids explains, there are some new products out there that might make diabetes management easier and keep your blood sugar under better control.
Several new meters on the market now eliminate the need to prick your finger several times a day. They're called alternative site meters. "With these, you can poke your arm instead," explains Lejcher. "But you do need to poke your finger once a day," she says. The idea is that you're more likely to test yourself if the prick is less painful. And more testing can lead to better control.
"I have quite a few patients who've started using this meter," Lejcher says, "and they really like it. And it costs about the same as the older ones."
Look for B.B. King in a television commercial for these new meters.
Two new insulins on the market have been helping a lot with glucose control:
This is a rapid-acting insulin, similar to Humalog. "It's been available for about five months," says Lejcher. "It's approved for the pump as well. I have quite a few patients who've done real well with this."
"This one's been around for about a year. It's a basal rate insulin. There's no peak; you just take it once a day. It's kind of like a pump for people who can't afford the pump." Lejcher explains that people who take Lantus also need to take a rapid-acting insulin at meals. "The patients I know who've been using Lantus have experienced much better control."
On the horizon: the GlucoWatch®
The GlucoWatch® measures blood sugar levels through the skin, not from the blood, eliminating the need for finger sticks. It takes measurements as frequently as every 20 minutes through the use of two sensors. Readings are displayed to the wearer and stored in memory. It can also tell users when their sugar levels are too high or too low.
Don't get your hopes up for the GlucoWatch® just yet. It's not yet on the market, for one thing. It's going to be fairly expensive, about $500 for the watch itself, and $4 for the two sensors. And you have to replace the sensors every 12 hours. The GlucoWatch® isn't expected to be on insurance companies' formularies, meaning that insurance probably won't cover them.
In clinical trials: inhalable insulin
Insulin can't be taken in pill form because the stomach digests the pill before it can be effective. Researchers are now testing and inhalable form of insulin. Using this type of delivery, you would inhale insulin into your mouth. It would then go into your lungs, and from there, pass into the bloodstream.
Inhalable insulin is not yet available to the general public.
Ask your healthcare team about these products
If your doctor hasn't mentioned these new products to you, be sure to ask about them. "You have to be your own advocate," Lejcher says. "Don't wait for your doctor or other healthcare provider to come to you with information. It's a great idea to make an appointment with your diabetes educator to find out whether these new meters or insulins would fit well into your care plan."
Dina Lejcher, CDE, Allina Medical Clinics, Coon Rapids; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders, February 2002