Collaborative diabetes tech on the Horizon

For diabetes devices interoperability is key, and partnerships between Insulet, Dexcom and Abbott show that rival groups see the benefits of working together.

The next year or so will see next-generation blood sugar sensors and insulin pumps from several of the big manufacturers enter the US market. Two collaborations announced yesterday could allow the partners to sell more devices than they could alone, though it will take a few years before they reach their full potential. 

Abbott’s market-leading Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitor will be incorporated into Insulet’s Omnipod Horizon automated delivery system, comprising a wearable insulin pump and software to control the hormone’s delivery. The Horizon is in pivotal trials in the US, and is designed to be a closed-loop system – an artificial pancreas – and could be launched later this year.

More importantly, when Abbott’s new version, the Freestyle Libre 2, finally makes it out of FDA limbo this will also be added to the Horizon system. Libre 2 is expected to be a mega-seller on its own; Insulet’s move to hitch the Horizon to Abbott’s new CGM ought to benefit the group significantly, though it will take time to build and launch this next-generation version.

Almost simultaneously, Insulet signed up with one of the other major CGM developers, Dexcom, for a very similar purpose. The Horizon will be developed to work with Dexcom’s current G6 and forthcoming G7 sensor, again giving Insulet a boost.

Selected forthcoming diabetes devices
Company Technology Type Expected US launch date
Insulet/Abbott Omnipod Horizon with Freestyle Libre Closed-loop system H2 2020
Insulet/Dexcom Omnipod Horizon with G6 Closed-loop system H2 2020
Abbott  Freestyle Libre 2  CGM 2020
Dexcom G7 CGM 2021
Insulet/Abbott Omnipod Horizon with Freestyle Libre 2 Closed-loop system ?
Insulet/Dexcom Omnipod Horizon with G7 Closed-loop system ?
Medtronic Minimed 780G Closed-loop system 2020-21
CGM = continuous glucose monitor. Source: company communications.

The deal with Abbott is expected to allow Insulet access to around half a million people in the US, since many patients first choose their CGM and add in a pump and control algorithm later. A pump that works seamlessly with the bestselling CGM, as well as another on the market, ought to do well.

But the collaborations do not just boost Insulet; Dexcom and Abbott are expend to benefit too. Horizon is considered differentiated from other insulin pumps, being the only one users will be able to control directly from their smartphones. Many currently available systems have mobile apps that allow users to track metrics including food intake and blood glucose levels, but they require separate handheld control devices.

All of this leaves Medtronic somewhat isolated. The group is the only one to have developed a closed-loop system entirely in-house, but the delay to its newest version, the Minimed 780G, means that it will trail the first versions of the Horizon system (A listless quarter for Medtronic, February 19, 2020).

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