Powered Up Pen or Pump on Training Wheels? A New Insulin Delivery Device for People With Type 2

The new insulin delivery device geared towards patients with type 2 diabetes is worn like a patch pump, but functions more like an insulin pen.

There is a new category of insulin device on the market that is aimed at patients with type 2 diabetes.  It’s a disposable insulin delivery device, and right now there is only one vendor supplying this product, but if the product takes off that is likely to expand.

Where does this device fit into the scope of insulin delivery devices?

If we stepped back in time three months there were three major ways to deliver insulin: a vial and syringe, an insulin pen and an insulin pump.  Each has positive and negative features.   The first two methods require 100 percent involvement by the patient in determining their insulin needs and remembering  how much insulin has been given and when.   The current insulin pumps on the market have a memory function that allows you to easily view or download your insulin history and a computer that can calculate your mealtime insulin needs.

The vial and syringe and pen do not require much in the way of intellectual investment.  There is nothing to program, nothing to memorize, nothing to really forget and not much to mess up.   You filled the vial with insulin or you didn’t, you injected with the pen needle or you didn’t.  You can learn to use these devices in half an hour.   Pumps, on the other hand, take commitment, weeks to months to get it right.

This brings us to the new insulin device.  Is it a fancy “pen” (it looks like a patch pump without the accompanying handset) or a dumbed-downed pump?   Whichever way you think of it, it has some characteristics of both.   It attaches to you and you wear it and change it like a pump, but like Mr. Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz somebody forgot to give it a fully functioning brain.   It runs only one basal rate just as if you were injecting insulin from a pen. And, like a pen, you can push a button and are able to deliver fast acting insulin to cover your meals.    Again, unlike the pump, it won’t help you decide the amount of insulin you need or give you nice printouts of your carb intake compared to your insulin doses.

Why is this device being promoted for people with type 2 diabetes?

People with type 2 don’t usually need the fine-tuning in insulin doses required for people with type 1. Most folks with type 2 (who take insulin four times a day) take large enough insulin volumes that the difference between 23 or 25 units isn’t critical.

Why would you consider looking at this level of device?

Perhaps you are considering a pump but aren’t sure you want to invest the time commitment to master it.  Perhaps you use a pen or vial and syringe but often don’t take your insulin at lunch because you don’t like injecting in front of people.  Perhaps you want a pump with training wheels first to see if you like the concept.

Whatever your reasons for looking into it, it is simply the new guy on the block that you can discuss with your health care team.

**Please note, this is not meant to be a review or an endorsement of any product mentioned.

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