New insulin 'on-the-go' patch gives Type 2 diabetes patients ease in treatment

Jo-Anne Brown whips up a healthy dinner most nights of the week. Her husband, Al, is only too happy to dig in. Al loves corn, but knows he has to watch his starches and carbs.

“The bad food is like a pizza,” he said. “You eat one or two slices and ZOOM! Up it goes.”

For the past 15 years, Al has struggled with Type 2 diabetes. He’s been on insulin, starting with pills and then moving to shots to control his blood sugar.

“You do different things during the day. Maybe you’re a little forgetful,” he said. “There are times when you do forget.”

Doctors say it’s critical for patients to control blood sugar levels to avoid serious complications like kidney, heart or eye damage.

“If they’re on pills, compliance is easier,” said Dr. Sung-Eun Yoo, an endocrinologist at the Cary Endocrine and Diabetes Center, “But if they’re on shots before each meal it’s difficult to comply.”

Dr. Yoo says an insulin treatment that is easier to administer has become a priority for some patients. No need to carry a cooler with insulin or needles.

For the past year, Al has been using the V-Go insulin patch. The V-Go is a small waterproof patch placed on the body. A patient clicks to deliver a unit of insulin into the skin.

“You push it. That’s where the needle penetrates your stomach, if you will,” said Al. “Pretty painless, really.”

Al refills the insulin and changes the patch daily. He says it’s one way to assist him with insulin control and not gamble with his health.

The V-Go is covered by Medicare Part D, and doctors say a growing number of insurance companies are now covering the insulin patch.

REPORT: MB #4398

BACKGROUND: Diabetes is a disease that involves problems with the hormone insulin. Normally, the pancreas releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes can occur when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, or when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin. There are three major types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common, with 26 million Americans diagnosed. It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, and can cause health complications in the kidneys, nerves, and eyes. Weight management, exercise, and nutrition can help control type 2 diabetes, but there is no cure.

DIAGNOSING: To diagnose type 2 diabetes, patients can be given a Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, random blood sugar test, fasting blood sugar test, or an oral glucose tolerance test. Depending on the treatment plan, patients may need to check and record their blood sugar level every now and then or, if on insulin, multiple times a day. Careful monitoring is the only way to make sure that blood sugar levels remain within the target range. Patients may need to take insulin shots or pills throughout the day, but one issue according to Dr. Sung-Eun Yoo, an Endocrinologist at the Cary Endocrine and Diabetes Center, is that people often forget about their insulin. Having to carry insulin shots in a cooler can be difficult to remember and cumbersome, so Dr. Yoo is talking to her patients about using a patch instead.
(Sources: & Dr. Sung-Eun Yoo)

V-GO PATCH: Even though a patch for insulin was introduced ten years ago, it is not widely available and doctors may not be prescribing it as often as they should be. Dr. Yoo says it’s very convenient and it’s a patch you wear. There’s baser insulin and then there’s meal insulin, and it just combines both functions. It delivers small amounts throughout the day so it covers baser insulin need. And then you click the button each time you eat, which covers meal insulin, so you don’t have to carry your insulin cooler and needles and you just click when you go out to eat and throughout the day. It makes treatment convenient, easy and available. The catheter goes in with a small device and the patients usually don’t complain about the pain or any uncomfortable feeling. Dr. Yoo says they usually recommend a patient with type 2 diabetes the patch who requires injections throughout the day and tends to forget the shots.
(Source: Dr. Sung-Eun Yoo)