Medtronic Safety Alert

May 12, 2010

Yes… that is the title of a letter I received from Medtronic Australia a few days ago. No wonder I instinctively reached for my pump and disconnected, even before reading the content of this “urgent” letter.

As it turns out, the supposedly important alert does not seem to be anything other than a simple clarifycation, probably made “urgent” by the need of Medtronic to cover any liability risk. Further to this, the letter is only related to the Continuous Glucose Monitoring capabilities of the Paradigm pump, so the amount of people potentially impacted is very small. Nevertheless all Paradigm users in Australia seem to have received the letter.

In October last year, Medtronic increased the lifespan of it’s sensors to 6 days instead of 3. While new pumps are programed for this change, everyone who got a pump a while ago is still faced with and “End of Sensor” message after 3 days.

The purpose of this latest message from Medtronic is to advise that “you should be aware of the following:

1.- The first sensor alert after 3 days of sensor use may be treated as an advisory reminding you that the sensor will need to be changed in a further 3 days”.

Is this a joke or what?

Ah!, and of course there is a subtle word or warning before the letter concludes:

“The sensor must not be used for more than 6 days as the accuracy of the sensor cannot be guaranteed”

Hmm… let me think… isn’t that the case for the whole life of the sensor.

I think Medtronic should pay more attention to communications with its consumers if they are to live to the expectations of being leaders in that market.

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New “Old” infusion set for Medtronic

March 21, 2010

Geoffrey Steinman, a user from TuDiabetes has recently mentioned in the Minimed group that he had the opportunity to try a new infusion set for the Minimed Paradigm, the Paradigm Mio. As a Paradigm 522 user myself, I’ve been battling with a number of set malfunctions from my favorite set, the Quickset. I was therefore, quite intereted in looking into thi new alternative.

Unfortunately, as soon as I saw the pictures published by Geoffrey, I discovered there is really nothing new in the Mio. When you compate this pictures of the Mio

With the pictures of the Unomedical Inset II

I must admit that these two sets look identical. I can only speculate and say that they are probably being made by the same manufacturer.  If this two sets are really identical, then the only benefit of the new set would be the Paradigm connector, which would make use of the Thinset reservoir unnecessary.

Now the big question is what impact will this have on the market. Will it kill the Thinset and ultimately reinforce the monopoly of Minimed in Paradigm consumables ? Only time will tell.

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Cheaper pumps for Australian Kids

February 25, 2010

The Australian government announced yesterday an enhancement to the pumps subsidy program for children which could help in the path towards universal insulin pump adoption for people with Type 1 Diabetes.

In an article published in their regular newsletter, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation indicates that the  “Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon MP, has announced an expansion of the Type 1 Diabetes Insulin Pump Program, with a dramatically increased government subsidy of up to 80% of the purchase price of an insulin pump.

The program was first launched in 2008 and provides a means-tested subsidy towards the purchase of an insulin pump for children under 18 who do not have access to private health insurance.

In Australia insulin pumps can cost up to $8,000, making them a medically desirable but unaffordable option for many without private health rebates.

Children under 18 with type 1 diabetes will now be eligible, on the recommendation of a health professional, for a subsidy of up to 80% of the cost of an insulin pump, to a maximum of $6,400 and a minimum of $500.”

Interestingly, the JDRF has also created a form in the website so members from the public can send thank you notes to the Minister.

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Animas heir dies from bad Diabetes control?

February 5, 2010

Shocking news have circulated the internet that Casey Johnson has died from Diabetes Ketoasidosis, a complication often associated with poor diabetes management. “Dr. Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner in New York City, said Johnson probably slipped into a diabetic coma, but people can usually be resuscitated from that in the first 24 hours.”

Johnson, the daughter of New York Jets owner Robert “Woody” is also the heir to the Johnson & Johnson health care products fortune. Of course, Johnson & Johnson is the owner of Animas corporation, one of the biggest makers of Insulin pumps.

One can only begin to imagine the effect this unfortunate event will have on Animas. Johnson lived a party life. In December, she announced her engagement to bisexual reality TV star Tila Tequila. Its very sad that someone with all the resources to have great control of the condition has ended this way.


Insulin Pumps and Airport Security

January 22, 2010

I’m just back from a  fairly long international trip, and thought I would share some of my experiences traveling with an insulin pump.

As I had an incredible number of connections during my flight, I had to go through Airport security a number of times. As I went through security the first time, I though I would save myself the inconvenience and take the pump off and put it through the metal detector. Despite the fear of some people that X-Rays may damage the device, the reality is that there is nothing magnetic in tha X-Ray machine, and I’ve been assured that puting the pump through it will not damage it.

After my second connection in San Francisco, I was told that taking the pump off was completely unnecesary. The officer said: “Is that an insulin pump?”… “you don’t need to take it off, the machine will not beep for it so you can go straight through with it”. So I decided to do that, after all, taking the pump off was a (very small) inconvenience and great if I could avoid it.

I left it on as I went through security in Newark. Given the temperature outside was welll bellow freezing, we had a significant amount of clothing on. We were asked to put coats and other outerware through the Xray machine. As I ended up with my Jeans and T-shirt I was asked by an officer again if that thing in my belt was an insulin pump. “Yep” I replied and then I proceeded to go through the metal detector, which as promised, did not alarm.

But thing had not ended just yet. I was then instructed to step into a flexyglass cabin for a manual inspection. As I asked what prompted the different process I was told that “We need to do an extra check because you are wearing an insulin pump”.  Ten minutes later we where in our way, a bit disappointed that things did not go as smoothly as I expected.

So I made a decision. For the rest of the trip (another 6 or 7 flights) I disconnected my pump and put it in the little tray with the rest of my electronics. After all, pumps can be disconnected for up to a couple of hours, and pumps consumables don’t even show-up on the X-rays

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Pro-baseball player Dave Hollins tells his diabetes story

January 15, 2010

Baseball player Dave Hollins is shares his story of being diagnosed with Type 1 during his professional career. He shares his first experience with going on insulin and how the earlier versions of a pump where not right for him. Today, Dave is in great health and uses an insulin pump to manage his diabetes.

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My diabetes travel supplies

December 18, 2009

Yesterday I was packing my diabetes supplies for an upcoming international trip, and though it may be useful to share some insights about what I’m packing. This is my first big trip since I’m on the pump, and must admit that my first impression is that there us a lot more “stuff” I need to carry with me compared with my last trip on injections. My kit looks like this:

Here is the list of what I’m bringing with me:

  • 2 boxes of Paradigm Quicksets (20 sets total)
  • 2 boxes of Paradigm reservoirs (20 in total)
  • 4 boxes of test strips for my Freestyle Lite(400 strips total)
  • Spare Medtronic pump
  • Portable sharps container
  • 3 vials of NovoRapid/Novolog (10ml each)
  • A few lancets
  • 5 syringes (in case things o wrong)
  • 3 AAA bateries + coin (for the pump)
  • Spare Freestyle Lite
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Ketone strips
  • Quickserter
  • Frio bag (to keep the insulin

Overall, my diabetes supplies will take about half of the space on my carry-on, and believe me, I want this stuff with me at all times. The last thing I want is for my diabetes supplies to be lost in one of the many connections I need to take,  so puting it in checked luggage is not going to be an option.

It’s probably also worth mentioning (you probably noticed in the list above) that I’m taking a second insulin pump with me. Medtronic has a program where you can get a spare pump when you are traveling. It’s probably not necesary if your destination is in a country where Medtronic has a significant presence. However if your trip includes more obscure places I highly recommend you consider borrowing a backup. My backup pump is Medtronic 515, a bit older than my current Medtronic 522, but considering is just a backup, it should be more than adequate. Kudos to Medtronic for puting this program in in place here in Australia.

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