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It's Medtronic & Qualcomm Vs. Google & Dexcom in Race to Develop Next-Gen CGM

Both partnerships aim to develop low cost, smaller, disposable continuous glucose monitoring systems that leverage data and analytics to provide actionable insights to diabetes patients.

Both partnerships aim to develop low cost, smaller, disposable continuous glucose monitoring systems that leverage data and analytics to provide actionable insights to diabetes patients.

Arundhati Parmar 

Back in August 2015, continuous glucose monitoring firm Dexcom announced that it would be partnering with Verily, formerly Google Life Sciences to build smaller, cheaper, disposable CGM sensors beefed up with analytics.

Here's how Dexcom's CEO, Kevin Sayer, described the effort in a November earnings call. 

We intend to work together to develop simple low-cost sensor systems integrated into advanced data analytics platforms to improve diabetes care from pre-diabetes all the way through intensive insulin therapy. We expect these advances will make diabetes management much more convenient and flexible than ever before, and we are excited for the promise this technology holds for patients and caregivers.

Now another medtech heavyweight is intending to make CGM devices much for affordable for a broad swath of people. Medtronic announced Wednesday that it is partnering with Qualcomm Life, a subsidiary of tech company Qualcomm, to jointly develop a next-generation CGM system that will incorporate a new sensor and smaller design. These single-use, disposable CGMs would be able to provide both near real-time and retrospective glucose data to type 2 diabetes patients. 

"Our vision is to transform diabetes care so people with diabetes can enjoy greater freedom and better health," said Laura Stoltenberg, vice president and general manager, Non-Intensive Diabetes Therapies at Medtronic, in a Medtronic news release. "We are thrilled to be collaborating with Qualcomm Life - a best-in-class leader in wireless technologies that is ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing connected world - to develop innovative and affordable CGM systems that will fundamentally change type 2 diabetes management." 


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Type 2 diabetes patients typically stick their fingers twice a day to get glucose readings 

Medtronic is a dominant player in type 1 diabetes market but this move corresponds with the desire of Medtronic CEO, Omar Ishrak, of capturing the much larger, type 2 diabetes market segment. Ishrak made an unexpected entrance at CES in Las Vegas this year, sharing the stage with GE's Ginni Rometty to unveil a research prototype concept for a first-of-its-kind cognitive app that can help to detect critical patterns and trends for people with diabetes to making daily management of diabetes simpler. That yet-to-be-released cognitive computing app offered a tantalizing possibility: In a research study of 600 patient data that was de-identified, findings suggest that cognitive computing can predict a low-glucose event three hours before its onset. 

The partnership with Qualcomm is also to enable that actionable insight although this partnership is presumably a more R&D-intensive process to develop a wholly new kind of CGM device that will leverage Qualcomm Life's wireless heft.

That subsidiary has been hard at work in developing its 2net Design platform that can design the communications components of connected medical devices including disposable drug delivery and disposable diagnostic devices. The platform provides end-to-end connectivity designed to meet FDA and HIPAA safety and privacy standards.

"This collaboration furthers our commitment of enabling new connected care models that liberate vital data and unlock insights to deliver intelligent care wherever the patient may be," said Rick Valencia, president and general manager, Qualcomm Life, in the release.

No timeline was offered regarding when such a system would be launched. Dexcom in comparison, is gearing up for the first product to launch in 2018. Irrespective of who wins the race, if these companies are successful in developing approved, effective products that function as advertised, the real winner may be diabetes patients. 

Arundhati Parmar is senior editor at MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected]  and on Twitter @aparmarbb



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