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Pumps Are Good, M'Kay?

Pumps are good, m'kay?The Associated Press has issued an article about the safety of insulin pumps, claiming that deaths have been linked to insulin pump use.  What's that phrase again?  If it bleeds, it leads?  Our own Scott Strumello, research blogger extraordinaire, has provided a very fine synopsis of the article - you should definitely take a read.  I was contacted by Steve Sabicer, a representative at MiniMed, and had the opportunity to get a little feedback from their camp. 

How does Medtronic respond to the claim that "insulin pumps can be risky and have been linked to injuries and even deaths"?

Medtronic stands behind the many years of clinical evidence that support the benefits of insulin pump therapy in patients of all ages

  • Insulin pump therapy is proven to improve patient outcomes versus multiple daily injections (MDI) with long-acting insulin (glargine).
  • Insulin pump therapy has shown strong results in pediatric patients as young as one year old.
  • Insulin pump use in children and adolescents may be associated with improved glycemic control and improved quality of life, and poses no greater, and possibly less, risk than MDI.
Do you feel that this article could keep doctors and insurance companies from approving the use of insulin pump?

We don't think this will significantly impact physician or insurance company practices moving forward.  The clinical data in support of insulin pumps is very strong.  In fact, Medtronic has noticed that many physicians have proactively come out in support of the therapy in response to this article. That said, we anticipate patients may be concerned because of the lack of context provided by the AP story. Medtronic encourages every patient to speak with their physician before making any decision about insulin pump therapy.

It's important to note that the article conceded that insulin pump therapy is beneficial for adolescents. They only suggested vigilant training and attention by parents and physicians. Medtronic encourages significant parental/physician involvement and we have designed a robust product training protocol to ensure our patients receive optimal instruction on the use and functionality of their insulin pump therapy.

  • We have more than 3,000 certified product trainers
  • Comprehensive online tools (Pump School Online, web-based training modules) for general diabetes information and product specific training
  • Paradigm REAL-Time CD-Rom product training
  • Code and PIE classes

How is Medtronic planning to address this issue with the media?

Medtronic is available for comment and interview to any journalist, and we also encourage them to contact pediatric endocrinologists and patients who have experience with insulin pump therapy.

What can pump users do to show insurance companies and doctors alike that insulin pump therapy should be available to any insulin-dependant diabetic?

As I said before, we don't believe this story will significantly impact physicians or insurers regarding insulin pump therapy. The clinical data in support of insulin pumps is strong.  That said, if patients are having difficulty getting coverage for their insulin pump, they can visit our website for claims information and helpful tools to demonstrate the case of their therapy.

(End of interview)

I've made no secret that I'm a fan of Medtronic's insulin pump line and that I believe pumping insulin has been one of the best decisions I've made for my diabetes management. What makes me craziest about this article is this line:  "There were two possible suicide attempts by teens who gave themselves too much insulin, according to the analysis."  This statement makes it seem like an insulin pump holds a substance far more dangerous than what I injected for over 17 years.  Point is, pumps are not for everyone, but that decision should be made by the diabetic and their caregiver.  I'd hate to see an article like the one from the Associated Press be something that keeps an insurance company from approving use of an insulin pump.

Scott summed it up nicely by saying, "But blaming the pump itself for problems that are not clearly tied to these Adverse Events seems to be irresponsible reporting at its worst."  Hear, hear!


Teens can attempt suicide with insulin using needles, too. The pump shouldn't be singled out as a dangerous device.

My son uses a pump and we'd have it no other way.

Did you see my post about this on May 5th?


Couldn't agree more that these "results" / headlines are damaging and wrong.

Thanks for highlighting!

Here, here!

I do not know what I would do without my "attachment". I LOVE my pump. After 20 years of MDI, um, yeah people, it is a huge benefit and a Good Thing!

I'm with Shannon and you!
Just because the pump may have been someones instrument of choice to attempt suicide, it could have been done with injections, pills...the list goes on. If a person wants to cause harm to themselves they will find a way, it's not about the pump being there at all. Terrible reporting on the AP's part.

The response, by the media to this article is no different that what has occurred with the controvesial data about Avandia and Vytorin.

The lay-media uses data, out of context, to create headlines. Unfortunately, most patients (and probably, most doctors) are not able to sift through what applies to them and whether the study design is any good. Even the study authors did nothing to dispel the inappropriate interpretation of their data. Thanks to everyone who is trying to set the record straight.

Shannon and Jillian - I agree with you completely.

CalPumper - No kidding, right? I would never give up my pump now. It's done wonders for my diabetes management.

Amy - I did see your post. Thanks to the power of the blogosphere, there were plenty of people blogging about this topic, helping to set the record straight. Thanks for being one of many!!

Mick - Agreed on all fronts.

My doctors have been telling me for years to get a pump. My biggest fear is that my skin is SO sensitive that I will have constant pain from where the needle goes. I know you're not supposed to feel it, but do you ever for just a few seconds feel a little sting?

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