Innovation abounds in glucose meter market

October 10, 2005

There's innovation aplenty in the $5 billion-a-year worldwide glucose monitoring market. The devices are becoming ever more speedy, painless, and accurate, according to industry analysts.

There's innovation aplenty in the $5 billion-a-year worldwide glucose monitoring market. The devices are becoming ever more speedy, painless, and accurate, according to industry analysts.

Pharmacists play a critical role in helping patients learn about the importance of glucose testing and the proper use of their meters, as well as which meter is best for them. "Pharmacists sell meters, and they should be aware of how the meters work," said Susan Cornell, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy in Downers Grove, Ill. She is a practicing community pharmacist and a certified diabetes educator. "They can be of great service to their patients by knowing what's available."

Devices that measure blood glucose via the traditional finger-prick method have been standard disease management tools for decades. But patient compliance and the limitations of current methods in detecting short-term fluctuations in glucose levels are bringing more and more companies into the hunt for less invasive and more user-friendly glucose monitors. According to medical device market researchers Greystone Associates, advances in sensing electronics and signal processing are leading to the manufacture of glucose monitors with the potential to eliminate the need for invasive blood sampling.

Already on the market is a new generation of meters manufactured by companies that promote what they say are safe, effective, and comparatively pain-free products. Older meters required a fairly large drop of blood to render a reliable result, said W. Steven Pray, Ph.D., D.Ph., Bernhardt Professor of Nonprescription Products and Devices at the College of Pharmacy at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla. He has written extensively about glucose meters, including a recently published textbook titled Nonprescription Product Therapeutics.

"The patient with diabetes committed to using tight control to prevent diabetic complications may test blood glucose as many as
five times daily," said Pray. "This makes the tips of the fingers quite sore at times, because the fingertips are full of nerve endings that provide the sense of touch. Fingertip pain can be serious if the patient has a job or hobby that requires use of the hands, such as music, plumbing, using a computer keyboard, or gardening."