Monday, February 6, 2012

The New Google Jewel

It's interesting that Google hosts my blog and then I write posts about Google.  I'm sure they have 100% permission to remove my account so I try to be nice...Most of the time.

First a little history for the ignorant.  Google is responsible for the Android OS which is found on millions of smart phones and various tablet computer type devices.  Yay Google!

I've had Type I Diabetes since just before my 12th birthday.  I'd tell you how many years I've had it, but then I'd give away my age and everyone who reads this assumes I'm a studly 19 year old.  I've had it longer than 10 years.  I'll even really get crazy and say I've had it for more than 20 years.  But, that's as crazy as I get.

I worry sometimes that Diabetes already has a cure, but it would put too many people out of work and impact the multimillion dollar payouts of several top CEO's who make their money selling products for Diabetes Management.  But, I'm neurotic.

Having said that I'm a fan of making diabetes easier to live with.  I currently wear an Animas Ping insulin pump.  It looks like the one pictured here, except that's not me.  I usually hide my pump in my pocket and wear long shirts that hide the tubing.  You never know I have one unless you see me eat (then I have to program it a bit).

I have tried 3 pumps in the 30 years I've had diabetes.  The first one was big and bulky and had a metal cannula that was jabbed in and left in 24/7.  It lasted about 24 hours before I threw it out and went back to daily injections.  That was back in 1984 or so.

The next one was better.  It had a plastic or soft cannula.  You have to use a needle to initially get the cannula in place, but once there, it's just a little flexible piece of plastic left behind.  Much more comfortable than the metal ones.  This one I tried in 1997 or so.  It was manufactured by a company called Medtronic and I blame it's failure on the salesman.  Not enough time spent in the setting up of the device.  My blood sugar was erratic and it kept giving me errors about occlusions which they "fixed" by arming me with longer much more painful cannulas.  I finally sent it back and went back to injections (after about 3 weeks).

Now, I've got the Animas Ping.  It's small, doesn't give me errors and the cannula is a little 6 mm piece of flexible plastic.  They spent 6 weeks calling me every day telling me to fast for 8 hours at a time to get the base insulin rate setup correctly.  This was in 2008.  After my fiasco with Medtronics I was pleasantly surprised.  The biggest bonus to me with the insulin pump (now that it's programmed correctly) is the freedom.  I was so used to eating every 5 hours whether I wanted to or not that the shear enjoyment of skipping meals was enormous.

I wasn't really going to go into all that when I started writing, but it felt right.  Insulin Pump manufacturers have to go through rigorous FDA testing to make their devices available to the (American) public.  Who knows how many millions of dollars it costs just to get Uncle Sam to approve the device and then they still have to ramp up production to meet the demands.  And this includes training the staff to, hopefully, spend 6 weeks with each patient customer to get everything programmed correctly.

Someone told me one time that the FDA kills more people every year than they save because of life saving medications that get delayed in the bureaucratic struggle of approval.  I don't know if it's true or not, but judging by how far behind the technology is in things like Insulin Pumps, I'd say it has at least a hint of truth.

Every time I have to program my pump to give myself some insulin, I'm thinking, "I could have written better code than this when I was in junior high."  It's clumsy, prone to errors, slow and super unfriendly.  To give myself a 5 units of insulin the correct way, it takes a whole lot of button presses (so many, I don't bother counting).  I can send someone a 50 word essay, using Swype, on my Android Phone, quicker than I can give myself a 5 unit bolus of insulin.

Enter Debiotech.  They're a company in Switzerland doing nano technology in the medical industry.

They've developed a tubeless insulin pump called the JewelPump.  It was shown at various shows in 2010.  I'm not sure when it was actually "developed".  It's still not FDA approved.  One of the largest hurdles to getting it approved seems to be its unique interface.  It can be programmed via Bluetooth and an application that runs on Android Devices.

That's right.  With this device I could free up one pocket because the Android Phone (which I carry around anyway) could be used to program my insulin pump.

I'm thinking this is a win-win for Google.  They've got deep pockets.  They front the money to get the pump marketed in the USA.  They get the name recognition of helping out Diabetics everywhere by helping to get this thing approved and delivered to my house.  And, because it had to go through FDA approval, it's not their fault that it will only run on Android devices.

I wouldn't even mind seeing the ads for blood testers while programming my pump.


  1. I too am anxiously awaiting the Jewel pump to reach the American market. I am currently on MDI and have considered a pump in the past (being a Type 1 diabetic for 20+ years), but do not like the idea of tubing. I looked into the OmniPod, but did not like all the reports I've seen about its reliability. The Jewel pump promises to revolutionize the pump market with its features. Please hurry and get this through FDA and to market. Thanks.

  2. I am a physician with type 1 diabetes for almost 18 years (an anesthesiologist not an endocrine doc) and I do not like the idea of tubing. Furthermore, the thought of an unreliable pump failing or running out of insulin while I am in the middle of an operation is not appealing. The jewel pump seems very appealing to me because of its size, shape and insulin capacity. What I want to know though is the Jewel actually in clinical trials? From looking at the web site it seems as though the Swiss company was marketing the pump to be picked up by a larger company which could fund a multiple million dollar trial to bring it to market.
    From speaking to my peers with DM I think that we all want smaller more comfortable pumps not bulky strap on boxes. Yet, companies like minimed keep producing larger products with more parts and minimally useful bells and whistles. I feel as a group we need to make our desires known and then maybe the 80% of type 1's who do not wear pumps will be willing to embrace the technology. We need to get a big name company to purchase this technology and bring it to market by informing them of our interests. This will be rewarding for both us and them.

  3. Did some searching for more recent news about the Jewel Pump beyond it's appearance at the 2010 ADA and found this article right on Debiotech's site about a trial being done in France right now in the summer-fall of 2012 :)

  4. I currently wear an Animas Ping insulin pump. It is ok.

  5. Just heard this today. Interesting that Google is getting into the Diabetes industry.