March thoughts on insulin pumps for Australia

Back in early February I wrote about the latest news/rumours about insulin pumps for the Australian market.

During my March UK trip I’ve been privileged to meet many other people with type 1 diabetes, in a variety of locations around the country. Some are using closed-loop pump systems, but as usual there’s actually been a broad selection of diabetes management systems being used. It’s been interesting hearing some of the local feedback about devices we don’t currently get in Australia.

OmniPod

I still hear people in Australia wishing that they could get the “wonderful” OmniPod in Australia. I’ve explained before why I don’t think this will happen (the cost structure doesn’t fit the pump funding model used in Australia). But from talking to people with actual OmniPod experience I’m not sure anyone would really want the OmniPod anyway.

First, on the cosmetic front I heard multiple people (both current OmniPod users and people who’d tried it as a demo) that it actually felt larger and more intrusive than they had initially expected. They also made the observation that there seemed to be a gender bias among OmniPod users in the UK: that girls might be more self-conscious about having extra lumps on their bodies.

Secondly, an issue of accuracy. I became aware of studies (here’s one example) which measured the accuracy and repeatability of insulin doses supplied by the pump. The OmniPod does not fare well! I’ve since heard of more and more people who when switching from OmniPod to another pump found their diabetes management became much more predictable.

I’m tempted to think we’re lucky after all that the OmniPod isn’t likely to reach the Australian market.

Medtrum patch pump

In last month’s article I pointed out that TGA approval had just been granted for supply of the Medtrum TouchCare pump system in Australia. The identify of the approval’s sponsor company made it seem possible that this is one of several pumps that might be introduced by AMSL in 2018. However, I have since spoken to people who have actually seen and played with this pump at some demonstrations by Medtrum in Europe, and they have not had good things to say about it.

The remote control was described to me as boxy and clunky. And the patch pump itself as clunky and large (although fairly flat). It apparently makes the OmniPod look svelte, and even makes the Cellnovo pump feel small (and that’s not even a patch pump per se!). I’m not convinced that people who’ve been wishing for the OmniPod would be happy with the Medtrum after all.

Note that the Medtrum pump does not seem to have approval for sale in Europe. And their S6 CGM system does not seem to have approval yet for supply in any market around the world, so it seems safe to assume the S6 wasn’t included in the TouchCare TGA approval.

So what will we see?

As time goes by we’ll see what new pumps are actually brought to market in Australia. Remember that the OmniPod got TGA approval in back in 2010, but has never made it to market. And the Accu-Chek Insight pump got approval in 2015, but never made it either. I talked with my UK friends about the Insight a bit too, but I’ll save that (and the Ypsopump) for another post! There are definitely some interesting possibilities out there.

2 thoughts on “March thoughts on insulin pumps for Australia”

  1. Wow what a negative blog post! I’ve never read anything with do little substance or facts, only conjecture and inexperienced opinions. Your not really doing anyone any service.
    My daughter has been on Omnipod for 6 years, nothing comes close to the freedom it offers. In our recent trip to Australia it allowed her to snorkel the reef, surf all day, lay in the sand and many other Australian past times never having to worry about disconnecting reconnecting or prepping a site. She could change a site in about 5 min during a hike through the Noosa National park, all she had to do was slap on a new pod and go. It’s unfortunate Omnipod doesn’t fit into the Australian funding model, it’s the perfect pump for the active lifestyles that Australians live!

    1. David Burren

      Interesting to hear your feedback. My comments here are over a year old now of course.

      I must admit my concerns about the (lack of) dosing precision are now alleviated by the ability to use the pods in loops (which by their nature will automatically adjust for that). I’ve thought for a long time that looping was going to be the saviour of the Omnipod, whether it’s the Horizon system or something else (such as DIY or Tidepool Loop).

      There are of course a bunch of inherent limitations in using a tubeless pod as compared to a tubed pump (and vice versa). How much they impact different people will be a personal thing.

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