Let’s step back and review.

Interesting headlines this week out of the annual Endocrine Society meeting in New Orleans, as Medtronic received some scrutiny after a presentation revealed that over a third of study participants using the Medtronic 670g here in the USA abandoned the system.

This is one of those stories where I feel we need to take a step back and consider all sides of this revelation.

First, from what I’ve been hearing and reading from others, this is not a complete surprise. This is also in keeping with word of mouth I’ve been getting from users of the 670g myself. What was most surprising to this observer is that it was actually put in writing and published.

But let’s look a little closer: the study cited in the presentation included only 93 participants, aged 6 to 25… hardly a large cross-section of users of this device. In fact, I know users in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who are still using the 670g.

According to the news report linked above, while the primary reason for giving up on the system was trouble staying in automode, other reasons given included “technical difficulties with use of the system, such as frequent alarms, premature sensor failure, requirement of calibration, skin adhesion problems, and sensor supply issues”.

Most of those other reasons are things we’ve heard before, and should be things that can be improved upon. I also remember reading about sensor supply issues after hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico… something that, again, should not be a long term issue.

Look, I get it… who wants to sign up to wear a medical device after they hear that 38 percent of users in a study don’t want to use it anymore? But let’s remember this was the first system of its kind approved by the U.S. FDA. While no one was going to make a copycat device, submissions approved after the 670g did have something to go on when seeking approval for their systems.

And let’s be honest: weren’t we all clamoring for faster FDA approvals for new medical devices just a couple of years ago? Weren’t we saying that we’d take less than perfect in order to have a better opportunity at time in range?

Now, before you decide that I’ve taken a stand on one side or other after hearing this news, please remember that I’m trying to stand right in the middle. Of course, if you stand in the middle of an intersection, you run a bigger risk of being run over by a truck. But I digress… what I’m really saying is, finding out that results of a study involving 93 people, all of whom are over 30 years younger than me, isn’t going to move the needle when it comes time to decide on a new insulin pump later this year.

We all have decisions to make when it comes to medical devices we wear, or whether we decide to wear any at all. Those are our own personal decisions. This story gives us more information to go on, but it’s still our decision to make when the time comes.

Being in a position where we actually have the opportunity to choose (I’m looking at you, United Health Care and Medtronic) is what’s most important. Because if either patients or companies are going to make decisions based on headlines like this, in my opinion, those decisions are a bit hasty indeed.

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Comments

  • Rick Phillips  On March 27, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    Stephen,

    I use and love the 670G. When people ask me what they should upgrade to the new pump I say no. Not unless you are willing to count carbs religiously, unlearn most of what you know or think you know about pumps and not unless you are willing to dig in deep and learn the system. If you are, I promise it will be worth while, but if you are not willing forget upgrading. Most forget about it. That is fine. this is a new way of treating diabetes. If you were given that choice in the early 1990’s it was about the first viable insulin pump. This is no less a revolution. I loved the challenge, but then again I am not everyone.

    now I am required by law to say the following (sorry Stephen)

    Note: I am a Medtronic ambassador. My opinions are my own. They did not pay me to say nice things about Medtronic devices or the company. OK, they sent me a shirt and a cup but even I am more expensive than that.

    Liked by 1 person

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