Thursday, October 16, 2008

Study Finds Continuous Monitors Best For Diabetes

A study published online by the New England Journal of Medicine reported that devices used to continuously monitor blood sugar levels were more effective for those aged 25 and older with type 1 diabetes than home-testing meters. The study authors reported no statistical increase in effectiveness for those aged 15-24, and stated that they felt this may have proved differently with more parental involvement. Older patients used the continuous devices at a higher rate. Type 1 diabetes is usually detected at an early age, oftentimes referred to as juvenile diabetes. The disease is characterized by the inability to produce insulin to convert blood glucose (blood sugar) into energy. Continuous monitoring seemed to help patients make better decisions regarding managing diabetes.

The researchers are hoping that this new information will prompt insurance companies to offer better reimbursement and coverage for continuous monitors. Monitors used in the study were from Medtroic Inc. (MDT), Abbott Laboratories (ABT), and DexCom Inc. (DMCM). In response to the study, shares of the three companies increased. Although they were not involved in analyzing the study, the authors of the study did report financial links for the manufacturers. The study was funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Patients used in the study were divided into groups – those who used continuous glucose monitors and those using traditional home-testing glucose meters, supplied by Abbott and Johnson & Johnson. They were also divided by age. Those over 25 saw a 50 percent decline in blood glucose levels, as opposed to those in the control group. 322 patients were used in the study and no difference was found in severe hypoglycemic events or situations where low insulin treatments caused blood sugar levels to drop – though this was not the reason for the study.

Unfortunately, continuous glucose monitoring devices are quite costly and many diabetes patients must pay for them themselves. With this new information, perhaps insurance companies will realize the need for these devices to be covered and reimbursed. To make a greater impact, more studies are being planned.

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