Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sneak Preview of Lilly's New Humapen Memoir

Last summer, I wrote about a new insulin pen which was shown at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions from insulin manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company. More recently, I wrote that at the company's last investor presentation, Lilly announced they were increasing the number of salespeople on their payroll by another 50%, largely to market their new insulin pen device, which is called the Humapen Memoir.

A few years ago, John Walsh (best known as the author of such classic diabetes books as "Using Insulin" and "Pumping Insulin") did what he called blue skying with the idea of trying to develop an insulin pen that could actually help patients control their diabetes. He stated:

"Current insulin pens are more convenient than injections, but they could do so much more. They could be designed like today's smart insulin pumps, and could even be designed to be far more intelligent so they really improve control."

He noted that today's insulin pumps collect all of the data needed to improve control: basal doses, carb boluses, correction boluses, carb intake, and blood sugars. New features also guide the user in meal and correction boluses, and protect against insulin stacking with the bolus on board (BOB) feature. Activity is not yet tracked, but could easily be incorporated. But he went a step further, suggesting that one need not have a $6,000 insulin pump to do all of this, but that much of this could be squeezed into an insulin pen. In fact, insulin pumps are not for everyone, and some of us actually prefer using a pen device (and based on experience, my "control" was no better with a pump than it is with injections). If you haven't already seen his proposed "smart pen," I highly recommend taking a look at the concept here). His idea would be great, but so far, no manufacturers have picked the idea up.

Tomorrow, however, we are moving a step closer to his vision with Lilly's new pen device. That pen records the date and time of a patient's last 16 injections, and it stores all the information in a device just a bit larger than a ballpoint pen.

According to a local news channel in Indianapolis, the Humapen Memoir from Lilly will go on sale in the U.S. starting as soon as Thursday, February 1, 2007. As a practical reality, it may take a while longer before it arrives in the hands of patients; salespeople will need to visit countless doctors and instruct them on how the new pen operates. I've said it before but I'll say it again, I think this new pen device is terrific (although I'm not convinced that it will be sufficient to turn Lilly's insulin business around after more than a decade of mismanagement, but I digress). The Humapen Memoir appears to be quite solid like the rival Novopen/Novopen Junior, but Lilly has packed in some nifty new features that give its pen a real advantage over current pen devices now available. Lilly has not yet opened a U.S. website for its new pen yet, but I would expect to see one very soon, and if and when one becomes available, I'll update this post accordingly.

In the interim, you can still get a sneak preview of how the Humapen Memoir works (although it works just like most other insulin pen devices) for an online demonstration. Don't worry if you can't read Dutch, just click "BEGIN" to start, then a legal disclosure page will pop up -- from there, just click on "DICHT" at the bottom right side of the page. You can then navigate by just clicking on the blinking text to move on the subsequent screens!

The new pen still does not enable dosing in 1/2 unit increments. I suspect that's because the marketing people at Lilly mistakenly assume that a majority of its customers are insulin resistant type 2 patients and will be dosing in excess of 100 units per day. While that assumption may be right from a volume perspective, rest assured that type 1's will never be outnumbered on a per capita basis. (Its worth noting that 62% of Lilly's Humapen Memoir clinical trial participants had type 2, so by default, the remaining 38% had type 1 -- we're even being marginalized in clinical trials for insulin and delivery devices ... geez!) If you'd like to have the company send you some information on the new Humapen Memoir to you by mail, please visit Diabetes In Control website where you can complete a form to request the information. FYI, the FDA application is available for review for more information on this product.


Christine said...

I really think pens have a lot more potential than is being used too. But this looks cool. Hmm...I wonder how I could get one when I'm a pumper that has never used humalog before?

Scott S said...

Your best bet is to ask your doctor for a pen to use as a backup in case your pump dies. In some cases (such as with Sanofi Aventis' insulin pens) that is the only way to get one, but even if that is not the case, endocrinologists are usually the best place to get one!

Anonymous said...

nice pen,however Lilly fails to tell you the batter is NOT replaceable in their sales pitch.

Scott S said...

I have been told the battery is not replaceable, I cannot help but wonder why?