This really is a big deal

This really is a big deal

Although Insulet (NASDAQ:PODD) doesn’t report their earnings until next Monday the company announced a collaboration with the Lilly (NYSE:LLY) yesterday to develop a new version of their OmniPod wireless insulin pump that will use Lilly’s Humulin® R U-500 insulin. According to a press release issued by the company; “As the incidence of severe insulin resistance continues to rise, more and more people with type 2 diabetes are requiring significantly higher doses of insulin in order to control their blood glucose. This new version of the OmniPod System would be the first insulin pump designed with specific feature modifications to deliver Humulin® R U-500 insulin. Given the rapid increases in rates of obesity and corresponding increases in daily insulin requirements, the new delivery system, if approved, would represent a significant and growing opportunity for people with highly insulin resistant type 2 diabetes to potentially better manage their disease with such a product.”

Now some might say why is this such a big deal as patients with Type 2 diabetes represent a mere fraction of the total insulin pump market. While this is true, it is also true more patients with Type 2 would become pumpers if they had a pump that was specially designed for their unique needs. Unlike patients with Type 1 diabetes who must use insulin, patients with Type 2 diabetes have a wide range of therapeutic options. Yet, as more and more of these options come under increased scrutiny and physicians have become more aggressive in their approach to treating Type 2 diabetes, insulin is becoming part of therapeutic mix.

Given that U-500 insulin is highly concentrated patients who are highly insulin resistant would no longer be subjected to multiple shots per day, a major issue and why a pump makes so much sense. Even patients who are not highly inulin resistant may find this new device attractive as they too could eliminate multiple daily injections. Even better for these patients is that this new OmniPod will likely be even smaller than the recently approved Eros pod.

Without getting overly technical here the viscosity of U-500 insulin allows for a wider range of pod design options. Unlike U-100, the most commonly used insulin for insulin pump patients, the reservoir which holds the insulin does not have to be cylinder shaped and actually could be rectangular allowing for a much lower profile than the current pod of new Eros pod.  Just as existing OmniPod patients should feel more comfortable using the new smaller Eros pod, patients using the U-500 pod should find what’s likely to be a small footprint equally attractive.

Diabetic Investor is assuming that Insulet will make modifications to the Personal Diabetes Manager, the device that controls the pod, specifically for the Type 2 patient population. While Type 1’s are embracing continuous monitoring in ever greater numbers and are typically more intensive with their diabetes management, Type 2 patients typically favor conventional glucose monitoring and are less intensive with their diabetes management. Hopefully Insulet will take this into consideration with the features contained on the new PDM.

Granted this news will not vault Insulet past insulin pump market leader Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), however it is a solid step in the right direction. Kudos to the folks at Insulet for recognizing that diabetes is not a one size fits all disease and that Type 2 patients have different needs than Type 1’s.