Companion Medical InPen

2/22/18
WRITTEN BY: Greg Brown
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Consider having the benefits of digital insulin monitoring without the handcuffing of needing to wear a constant device. Enter Companion Medical and its InPen.

The FDA recently approved the smart insulin pen, which is designed to be paired with the InPen Apple iOS or Android app. A first in the U.S., the InPen, which can be used continuously for up to one year and works with Lilly Humalog or Novo Nordisk Novolog U-100 3.0 mL insulin cartridges, uses Bluetooth to deliver digitized data and, perhaps most important, user convenience.

At this time, the InPen is the only FDA-approved insulin delivery system combining an injector pen, bolus advisor, Bluetooth technology, and a smartphone app. In essence it attempts to create a low-hassle, contained insulin therapy system. Users just need to occasionally swap insulin out. Companion Medical says cartridges can generally be installed within one minute and will need to be replaced either weekly or monthly. Another plus: if a user dials too many units, the InPen allows you to correct the dose so as not to waste any insulin.

The pen tracks insulin doses (including priming) and automatically sends data to a user’s mobile device as long as the app is running in the background. InPen’s two key benefits are cost and flexibility.

“Our team has worked diligently to develop a solution for people living with diabetes who want the benefits of an insulin pump without the cost or burden of being tethered to a device,” said Companion Medical CEO Sean Saint.

Insulin pumps, while novel, life-changing, and slowly growing in market presence, are, at best, a bit cumbersome and can cost thousands of dollars. The InPen can be slipped in one’s pocket and used when needed. The data tracking capabilities of the pen make dosing easy and accurate, in theory.

As for cost, Saint said that most major insurers (companies on the level of UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Humana, and Cigna) will cover the InPen. Companion Medical states that the out-of-pocket cost for the InPen is no more than $35, through its co-pay assistance program.

Saint said in a company press release that health provider interest has been strong. “Doctors see the combination of two technologies (pumps and pens),” said Saint. “This is very intuitive to them, and they get it. Even doctors who are very pump-centric, what they see here is the ability to bring pump-like features to those who they have previously failed to convince.”

Cost and portability, however, really only begin to capture the potential value to users. The pen calculates and recommends optimal doses, tracks dose history and timing for up to a year, monitors insulin temperature, allows insulin data to be shared with health providers and insurers, reminds users when a dose is due, and comes in three separate colors, a real potential benefit when keeping different insulins separate is a need.

InPen is only available with a prescription, and the company says it’s only intended for use by those who are 12 or older.

The InPen app is compatible with both Apple iOS and Android. The IOS app allows glucose data integration from BGMs and CGM via Apple Health. Companion Medical has also integrated other established data management systems, such as Glooko and Tidepool, with the app.

 


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Greg Brown

Greg Brown is a freelance writer living in western Maine. He has written for Consumer Reports Magazine, Consumer Reports Online, The New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications. He can be found online at: www.yellowbarncreative.com.