The GlucaPen, a big improvement on Glucagon shotsI had an interesting conversation last week with Dick Rylander of Enject. We spoke at some length about their product, the GlucaPen, that they hope to have on the market before long. It's a simpler way to give people Glucagon injections.
Glucagon is a hormone that's produced in the pancreas. When it's released by the pancreas it causes the liver to take it's glycogen reserves and convert it into glucose. So it rapidly raises blood sugars levels. In emergencies, the glucagon reserve can be depleted by people who have type 1 diabetes (thanks for the correction from Mr. Sven below). It's a treatment for extremely low blood sugars where food or liquids can't be given. So it's really only used when there's an emergency.
The picture shows a glucagon kit from Eli Lilly. You may notice that the vial on the left contains a white powder. This must be combined with the liquid in the syringe just prior to use. Reconstituted glucagon has a shelf life of up to 48 hours when refrigerated.
So here's how it works. Your loved one is lying on the floor unconscious. You get the glucagon kit (you did put it in a well-known place, didn't you?). Before you can inject the glucagon into them, you need to follow about a half-dozen steps written on the enclosed leaflet. It's really difficult. One paper says the process "requires a manually dexterous operator who is composed, confident and competent in the whole procedure."
Let's look at the GlucaPen approach. Here's a picture of the GlucaPen prototype.
It will be a single unit, slightly longer and larger than an EpiPen. So you easily carry it with you, or pack it for a trip. And there are two simple steps before using it. These are displayed clearly on the side of the pen.
GlucaPen is looking for your opinions, they have a survey that includes a short video of the prototype being used. There's one survey to complete if you're an adult patient with diabetes, and a different one if you are a caregiver for someone with diabetes.
The GlucaPen folks have been developing this for about three years now and hope to have it on the market before too long. I think it's a great example of innovative design to make living with diabetes a bit easier. I'd love to hear any stories you have about using glucagon and whether something like this might make it easier.
Update: The GlucaPen has been entered in the DiabetesMine design contest, so there's now an animated video showing how it works. You can watch this below.