Diabetes: Outlook for Monitoring, Management, and Technology Development

April 18, 2012

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the normal mechanisms for controlling the level of sugar in the bloodstream break down. There are two main types of diabetes mellitus, known as type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body wrongly identifies beta cells as being foreign and destroys them. The only current treatment option is to administer insulin, to replace that which should have been produced by beta cells.

In type 2 diabetes insulin continues to be produced but the tissues on which it should act no longer respond adequately, or at all, to it. A variety of drugs, which can be given orally, have been developed to treat type 2 diabetes, but about one-third of individuals with this condition also, eventually, need insulin.

Diabetes, as a disease driving significant healthcare costs, has become a key target of healthcare advocates and manufacturers, especially since its comorbidity with obesity, an increasingly prevalent problem worldwide, has made it a prima facie condition that can be readily managed clinically. Its association with obesity stems from strong clinical evidence that type 2 may simply be eliminated by addressing obesity. In turn, type 1 (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) is a condition readily managed through control of blood glucose by routine testing and regulated insulin infusion. Indeed, there are few healthcare conditions that can either be eliminated (as in elimination of type 2 diabetes by aggressive obesity management) or readily managed by routine testing and intervention (as in type 1).

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #D510.

Global expenditures in management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes stand at $36 billion annually. This level of expenditure creates obvious opportunities, between a one-time surgical intervention (e.g., gastric bypass) that may eliminate type 2 diabetes and the supply of blood glucose monitoring and insulin infusion products that may preempt type 1 diabetes from being any kind of obstacle to a normal healthy and active lifestyle.

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Manufacturers have taken this opportunity to pursue diabetes management products that are ever more capable of normalizing diabetics’ daily lives. This has resulted in advances in continuous blood glucose monitoring, pain-free blood sampling, safer and more effective type 2 diabetes drugs and even development of “artificial pancreas” devices to provide autonomous (closed loop) monitoring and infusion of insulin.