Diagnosed at just nine years old and now 35, Ash Hunkin’s life hasn’t been the same since she invested in the Medtronic MiniMed 670G hybrid closed loop system. It has allowed her to manage her type 1 diabetes (T1D) a lot better.
“The changes in my diabetes management have been astonishing,” says the BC resident. “Last week I had my first endo visit post 670G. My A1C had dropped an entire point meaning that I’m in range. This is the first time I’ve been able to accomplish that probably since puberty!”
In October 2018, Health Canada approved the first hybrid closed-loop system, Medtronic’s MiniMed 670G advanced insulin pump. This is the only device in the market that offers a hybrid closed-loop functionality which uses glucose readings from Medtronic’s Guardian sensors to adjust or suspend insulin basal delivery. It is called a “hybrid” closed-loop system because the patient still has to enter carbohydrates when they are eating to make decisions about meal-time insulin. As the first partially automated insulin delivery system on the market, it represents an evolution in the self-management of type 1 diabetes.
Days later, Health Canada also approved Tandem Diabetes’ t:slim X2 insulin pump. Designed to integrate with Dexcom’s G5 and G6 sensors, it eliminates the need for finger-stick blood testing today while paving the way for low-glucose suspend technology in the future.
Ash, a community engagement specialist for JDRF, described the emotion she felt when the announcement of the Health Canada approval for 670G came through. “My family had been fundraising for JDRF since the early 90s. Back then everyone was talking about a fantasy future where we imagined that the new test kits and pump technology might someday combine into an artificial pancreas technology that could do the work for us. It seemed completely far away. To be in the office when we got the news was so surreal and honestly brought me to tears.”
Ash would benefit a lot more if the 670G was publicly covered. “Like a lot of T1Ds I’m used to spending money that other people in my career or age would be using to buy a condo, take trips, or eat out,” she says. “I buy clothing at thrift stores and cut corners in other areas like groceries and my personal life so I can invest in diabetes technologies. Lots of people are scrimping and saving that much just to get by even without diabetes. With the health outcomes possible it is unjust that other people living with T1D can’t access this. It shouldn’t depend on how much disposable income you have available to purchase a product like this. It’s not a luxury.”
Having choices in how patients treat and manage their T1D is invaluable and enables them to make better decisions for themselves. These devices represent an important next step toward a closed-loop insulin system and should be accessible options for anyone managing type 1 diabetes.
JDRF has written to the BC government asking that all BC residents living with type 1 diabetes have affordable access to the Medtronic MiniMed 670G and the Tandem t:slim X2 by adding them to the province’s list of approved Tier 2 devices under the province’s insulin program. BC residents can add their voice by using a new online action to reach out to their provincial representative and asking them to include these two devices in the BC Pharmacare program.