European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) 50th Annual Meeting

September 14-19, 2014: Vienna, Austria – Full Report – Exhibit Hall

Executive Highlights

At this year's exhibit hall, we saw notable highlights from Abbott in devices and from Lilly/BI in drugs. On the device front, Abbott's booth showcased its new FreeStyle Libre system, drawing a steady stream of excited attendees throughout the conference. Representatives proudly wore and demoed the new device, emphasizing that the sensor is so small they forget about it, even though it is worn on the upper arm. Promotional videos and posters advertised the simplicity and convenience of the factory-calibrated technology (we really like the saucy “You can do it without lancets”; “You can do it anytime, anywhere” campaign). Medtronic’s booth was also notable, given its major focus on type 2 diabetes for the first time. This was not out of the blue, as the Opt2mise trial results were published in the Lancet in July (an RCT comparing pumps to MDI in type 2s) and a type 2 partnership with Sanofi was announced at ADA (shortly following the 2014 Analyst Day, which also had a focus on type 2 diabetes). Last, we did see many companies making a foray into more connected technologies, including VPD/Philosys (smartphone meter), SOOIL (pump controlled via a smartphone app), J&J LifeScan (Bluetooth-enabled OneTouch VerioSync), Foracare (Bluetooth meter), and others.

On the drug side, Lilly/BI had a particularly eye-catching booth in the exhibit hall; the central item in the display was a model of a mountain road, complete with iPad-controlled jeeps intended to symbolize Trajenta (linagliptin) and Jentadueto’s (linagliptin/metformin) potential to “equip [patients] for the journey ahead.” This conference was also the first time we’ve seen a large share of the exhibit devoted to the recently approved Jardiance (empagliflozin). In other firsts, Novo Nordisk’s glossy white exhibit prominently featured the recently launched Ryzodeg (premixed insulin degludec/insulin aspart), and took on a very celebratory feel (complete with pink balloons) on the last conference day following the EMA's approval of Xultophy (insulin degludec/liraglutide).

Booths included in this report that were not covered in our daily highlights reports are highlighted in blue.

Exhibit Hall

Abbott

Abbott’s distinctive yellow booth was in the front right corner of the exhibit hall floor, no surprise following the company’s absence last year. The launch of the FreeStyle Libre provided plenty of reason to be present on the floor and was clearly an item of excitement among attendees – the booth was so packed it was difficult to make our way through it! Abbott representatives without diabetes proudly wore and demoed the new device (Adam and Kelly envied their flat-line glucose curves!), emphasizing that the sensor is so small they forget about it, even though it is worn on the upper arm. Meanwhile, promotional videos and posters advertised the simplicity and convenience of the factory-calibrated technology (we really like the saucy “You can do it without lancets”; “You can do it anytime, anywhere” campaign). Representatives also highlighted the novelty of launching a new technology in the EU as opposed to US. A smaller component of the booth promoted the software report readouts (ambulatory glucose profile); this lounge-like area featured a 15-minute live demonstration of the product and generated a surprising amount of interest in its own right. Following yesterday’s very detailed corporate symposium, we learned several new facts in the booth:

  • Unlike current CGM devices, the FreeStyle Libre sensor cannot be “restarted”; the reader knows the sensor has been used for 14 days. This is good to know from a business perspective, since it means 24/7 users have to use two sensors per month – we imagine very soon the CGM companies will follow this convention. By contrast, the average 24/7 Dexcom user is said to use two to three sensors per month, since the seven-day sensor can be “restarted” and used beyond its indicated use.
  • The reader keeps track of the number of scans, allowing HCPs to see how often patients are actually checking their glucose. Brilliant! We will be very interested to learn more about this – lots of behavioral interventions may come to the fore in combination use.
  • The sensor patch stores eight hours of glucose data, while the reader can store 90 days of data. The data is only transferred to the reader with a scan, meaning if a patient goes 12 hours without a scan, the first four hours of data will be lost. We assume this was a compromise that allowed Abbott to drop the cost of the sensor patch, since the data is not sent continuously.
  • We got a first demo of the sensor applicator, which looks incredibly easy to use: the round sensor fits into the round plastic applicator; patients line up two lines; and then press the applicator on to their skin. GO! It’s simpler than the slightly more involved Medtronic and Dexcom applicators.
  • In the user experience study, 91% of patients surveyed (n=30) agreed that it is easier to check glucose with this system (which, granted, was only 30 patients), than with other glucose monitoring systems.

Alere

Alere’s small booth, tucked away toward the side of the exhibit hall, advertised the company’s new blood glucose meter, the Alere G1; news of an upcoming planned launch in India (scheduled “soon”) was unexpected, especially considering the recent overhaul of management (CEO Ron Zwanziger resigned July 1) that left implications for the diabetes portfolio unclear. The G1 is already CE Marked (~1 month ago) and a 510(k) application has been submitted to the FDA – management is optimistic that a response is coming soon. The meter requires a 0.5 μL blood sample size, stores 500 readings, and can be downloaded to a data management platform (it was unclear whether this is an Alere-specific or a more general platform). The device exceeds the most recent 2013 ISO criteria for blood glucose meters; management highlighted that the meter features a gold electrode that enables “100% conduction of electrons” and uses the glucose dehydrogenase flavin adenine dinucleotide (GDH-FAD) enzyme as the redox intermediate in order to minimize interference with maltose and acetaminophen among other agents. A simple poster and small demo area advertised the new product. Instead, the majority of the booth was devoted to the company’s line of cardiometabolic products, highlighted by the Afinion AS100 Analyzer. This multi-analyzer provides a quantitative determination of albumin, creatinine, lipid, and A1c levels; representatives advocated strongly for the “accurate” and “simple” 3-minute A1c test, a feature we were able to demo for ourselves at the Novartis booth.

Arkray

Arkray’s booth, in a white and grey color scheme, sat towards the back of the exhibit hall and featured its blood glucose test meter, GlucoCard, as well as its automatic glycohemoglobin analyzer, ADAMS A1c, HA-8180. The booth had several handouts on GlucoCard lying on its counter, marketing the meter’s various models including GlucoCard S, GlucoCard W, and GlucoCard Sonyx (the newest model with Bluetooth communication). An A1c analyzer also sat in one corner of the booth for attendees to view. Aside from the small coffee bar, the booth offered few other marketing displays or interactive activities.

AstraZeneca

Fronting a very busy corridor near the entrance to the exhibit hall, AZ’s super high-tech booth showcased the enormous range of its diabetes portfolio. A large banner with a group of patients stated “Is a certain patient on your mind? AstraZeneca’s diabetes product range can help you personalize their care.” Upon entering the booth, attendees were presented with an RFID key that they could “tag” at the different displays to collect information to take away with them. The one product that received a disproportionate share of attention and space was SGLT-2 Forxiga (dapagliflozin), which was launched in Europe last year. Two large walls composed of television screens highlighted key efficacy data on Forxiga, and material related to Forxiga covered approximately one-third of the main section of the booth. A tall display on Onglyza (saxagliptin) and Komboglyze (saxagliptin/metformin) noted that the franchise (thanks to the SAVOR outcomes trial) provides proven glucose control with no increased risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular death. One corner of the booth was dedicated to Bydureon (exenatide); due to its placement away from the center of the booth it did not seem to be drawing as much attendee attention as other parts of the exhibit and we were surprised at where this landed. A separate section of the booth (with a 3D printer making small models of different biological structures) focused on AZ’s clinical science in cardiovascular and metabolic disease, showcasing the company’s externally-sponsored research initiative as well as CVD products such as the blood thinner Brillinta (ticagrelor).

Bayer

The focus of Bayer’s booth was spilt between its alpha-glucosidase inhibitor Glucobay (acarbose) and its line of blood glucose meters. The Glucobay half, oriented toward the rear of the exhibit hall, featured the same game as last year, giving attendees 40 seconds to identify five differences between two pictures of a hamburger and french fries shaped like a tarantula; each missing item in the second picture represented something that would have raised a patient’s post-prandial glucose level (for example, one french fry was missing). An accompanying booth cited multiple studies of Glucobay, highlighting the beneficial effect of the agent in combination with metformin on body weight and A1c. On the other side of the booth, Bayer featured the Contour line of meters. As expected, accuracy was the clear focus of the marketing campaign as representatives were quick to point out that the meter meets ISO 2013 criteria. However, we were impressed by accompanying signage noting that meeting standards it itself does not guarantee sufficient accuracy; instead, the poster featured a bulls-eye-like graphic that visually depicted Bayer’s significantly better-than-standard accuracy. We also saw the plug as a subtle – and clever – dig at other companies claiming to be in the same accuracy strata as Bayer based on ISO 2013 criteria. Bayer does seem to have the upper hand on the accuracy front, though we are not sure the extent to which they are benefiting from this as much as might be possible.

BD

BD’s modern-looking booth, featuring neat neon colors and semi-translucent paneling, was located quite centrally in the exhibit hall. In contrast to past displays (most recently: AADE 2014), the company chose to focus largely on promoting lipohypertrophy awareness rather than the company’s pen needle product, the AutoShield Duo, that launched in the US in August. Notably, the latter was featured at a small demo station at the rear of the exhibit, where reps emphasized the safety of the product (front and back-end shields), ease of use (hidden needle, visual red indicator), and provided attendees with free samples. The remainder of the exhibit was data-driven, featuring multiple posters that highlighted the underappreciated importance of rotating insulin injection sites – 98% of people with lipohypertrophy do not rotate or rotate incorrectly! Indeed, one poster noted that rotation is “just as important as insulin, diet, and exercise,” while a separate corner of the booth shared clinical findings that proper rotation can reduce A1c up to 0.58%. We’re not sure most patients know or would believe this. Just like last year, the booth featured a live patient demo, allowing attendees to observe how a physician might go about diagnosing lipohypertrophy. Attendees were also offered a “Lipo Detection Starter Pack,” containing inspection gel (for a physician) and rotations tools (for patients) to promote rotation, while accompanying signage highlighted that appropriate rotation can allow patients to use up to 15 fewer units of insulin/day. Last, in addition to espousing rotation, company reps also highlighted the importance of using a shorter, 4 mm needle; this is the first time we have seen BD exclusively promote the 4 mm needle (often they also highlight the 6 mm and 8 mm versions), as reps were adamant that the shorter option is plenty long enough to penetrate skin (~2 mm depth) and is short enough to avoid reaching muscle. This is a familiar tune from launch of the 4 mm and we were happy to hear it (we don’t want patients to use longer needles if they don’t need to!)

Dexcom

Dexcom’s small, understated booth was lightly trafficked in the middle of the exhibit hall. The G4 Platinum’s approval in children 2-17 years old was the major focus of a large banner on the back wall. Other signs promoted the company’s tagline, “One step ahead,” and that the G4 Platinum has the lowest mean ARD in the CGM industry (the FreeStyle Libre is technically more accurate, per the label, though it is not considered a CGM). In speaking to a rep about the G4 Platinum’s major advantages over competitors, she first mentioned the greater possible distance between the receiver and transmitter – a point of differentiation from Medtronic’s MiniMed 530G/Enlite and Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre. We learned that the G4 Platinum is now approved in 32 countries, and notably, is covered by government insurance in Switzerland, Slovenia, and Czech Republic – we have heard it is absolutely insane in Switzerland, where that reimbursement has come online recently. Though EASD is a very drug focused meeting, the rep told us that the majority of boothgoers were familiar with Dexcom – that was a positive, we thought – now reimbursement just has to improve in the EU!. We caught sight of a flyer on our way out, promoting the G4 Platinum’s ability to reduce nocturnal hypoglycemia “regardless of insulin delivery method” – yet another understated point-of-differentiation from Medtronic’s CGM offering.

ForaCare

Friendly and enthusiastic representatives greeted us at ForaCare’s stately black and white booth located near the rear of the exhibit hall. The display featured multiple stations where attendants demoed the company’s flagship products: the Bluetooth-enabled Diamond Mini and Diamond Voice blood glucose meters. Both devices meet the most recent ISO 2013 standards for BGM accuracy and automatically sync to a mobile app that allows users to track their glucose history. The Mini, as the name suggests, is roughly the length and thickness of a USB stick, while the Voice is roughly the size of an old Blackberry cell phone. We were able to play around with the mobile app interface and found it fairly user-friendly; the app is available on both the Apple and Google Play stores for free. Representatives were particularly insistent on highlighting the ASSI (Advanced Superior Sip-In) feature of its test strips – this technology enables “easer and quicker” (0.25 seconds) blood absorption and enables patients to test blood glucose from any angle. Elsewhere in the booth, we also noted signage advertising the company’s ADVANCED Pro meter for professional use; ultimately, we were impressed to find that these three meters represents just a fraction of ForaCare’s ten BGMs currently available.

GI Dynamics

GI Dynamics’ booth promoted the EndoBarrier in a purple, orange, and turquoise color scheme. The device therapy was marketed alongside the words, “Dual Challenge. Single Solution,” with two arrows representing diabetes control and weight loss. Models of the EndoBarrier were situated in glass cases in tables around the booth, accompanied by large interactive tablet screens. The three key benefits of the device therapy were marketed as (i) restoring healthy glycemic levels, (ii) producing dramatic weight loss, and (iii) impacting cardiometabolic risks. Standalone screens also featured videos on the delivery and retrieval procedures, providing attendees with a clear look at how the device works. In addition, colorful booklets on EndoBarrier’s background and safety and efficacy data were available for attendees to take home.

GSK

At an elongated booth at one corner of the exhibit hall (a fairly well-trafficked area), GSK representatives highlighted the relatively recently approved GLP-1 agonist Eperzan (albiglutide). For background, albiglutide was recently launched in the US, where it carries the brand name Tanzeum – see our GSK 2Q14 Report for more on the plans for Tanzeum in the US. We learned at EASD that the company is aiming for the first few European launches to occur in January or February next year, which represents a slight postponement of earlier guidance for launches to begin in 2H14. As we understand it, the first few European launch markets are likely to be the UK and Switzerland, among other countries. The gap between approval and launch does not appear to be a matter of manufacturing the pen, as sales representatives were showing off the device and demoing the administration protocol. Rather, negotiations with the many disparate European governmental reimbursement authorities will likely require time to complete. The main theme in the booth’s displays was Eperzan’s once-weekly simplicity: booth signage featured the message “Because type 2 diabetes patients have so much to think about each day.” Another display compared the one weekly injection with Eperzan to the ~21 weekly injections that might be required with a rapid-acting insulin (specifically mentioning insulin lispro).

Integrity Applications

Tucked along the right side of the exhibit hall, Integrity Applications featured a modestly sized, white-paneled booth with blue and green accents. As expected, the marketing campaign focused on promoting the GlucoTrack, “a truly non-invasive blood glucose monitoring device for home use.” The device is clipped to the earlobe and uses ultrasonic, electro-magnetic, and thermal measurements to calculate glucose information; measurements take roughly one minute. These readings are sent via a cable to a handheld device, which in turn, can be connected to a computer via USB to download data. The ear clip must be calibrated for every patient in a process that takes up to two hours and must be replaced (and re-calibrated) every six months. The product has been launched in the EU, though the company is still in the process of establishing distributors; representatives were optimistic that sales would pick up in the coming six months as visibility and appreciation for non-invasive technology increases. The accuracy of the device is quite poor – MARD ~30%, per poster #1083 at this conference – and we don’t imagine this being clinically useful for most patients. Stateside, the company has submitted an FDA application for approval, though cautioned it may be up to two years till we see the product on the US market.

J&J: Animas

A large poster of a smiling, young boy with his Vibe pump demarcated the Animas section of the exhibit; though the small booth represented only a sliver of the expansive J&J layout, the white paneled desk was packed. In particular, attendees crowded around a neat, touchscreen monitor that educated attendees about the speed, precision, and accuracy of the pump. Most notably, representatives actually discussed the timeline for the US launch of the device, noting that the company hopes to bring the pump stateside by the end of 2014. This timeline is consistent with what was reported at Dexcom 2Q14, and we certainly hope these words reflect a real time update of the company’s progress.

J&J: Janssen

Janssen accounted for approximately half of J&J’s exhibit (see our LifeScan and Animas exhibit hall coverage, below and above, for the other half of the booth), which was prominently positioned close to the entrance of the exhibit hall. Not surprisingly, Janssen focused heavily on the SGLT-2 inhibitor Invokana (canagliflozin) – see our J&J 2Q14 report for updates on the drug’s recent success. What a big win it’s been for Janssen to be able to launch first in the US! The booth featured a giant rainbow framing a coffee bar, with questions about “how to change the conversation of diabetes treatment” displayed on scattered clouds. In keeping with the meteorological theme, one wall illustrated a patient’s transition from standing underneath a thundercloud to a rainbow, claiming that Invokana “provides a new option for sustained glycemic control when metformin is not enough.” Various screens around the booth quizzed attendees on how much weight loss or glucose excretion Invokana could produce, with real weights and sugar bowls available to represent the different choices. The company also focused on Invokana’s extra-glycemic beneficial effects on blood pressure and weight loss, as well as its potential for use in both dual and triple therapy. Vokanamet (canagliflozin/metformin) had a much smaller presence in the exhibit, with its name only mentioned on the floating ring above the booth.

J&J: Lifescan

LifeScan’s portion of the J&J exhibit captured a significant portion (~25%) of the booth’s real estate. Sleek white walls with dark blue accents framed a host of LifeScan’s OneTouch products that were displayed along the back wall. We particularly enjoyed our demo of the OneTouch Verio Sync, which launched in the US in January and was displayed prominently at the front of the exhibit. That said, representatives politely but firmly rebuffed our attempts to gain insight into the US timeline for the OneTouch Verio, maintaining the company’s silence on this front – we continue to await an update. Representatives did not discuss any other devices in the pipeline.

Lilly

Lilly’s independent booth, though a bit more conventional than the “house” setup we’ve seen at recent conferences, still had a very homey feel. Shelves filled with children’s books and stuffed animals promoted Lilly’s powerhouse partnership with Disney, and another colorful area featured the company’s “Diabetes Conversations” program, with “conversation maps” designed to facilitate education for children with diabetes. Most of the information about specific Lilly products was addressed in the shared exhibit with BI, though a large section devoted to Humalog (insulin lispro) featured information about the AUTONOMY self-titration study, Displays on the walls emphasized Lilly’s wealth of experience in diabetes innovation, with an entire video focused on the insulin manufacturing process (perhaps an attempt to remind attendees of the company’s longstanding reputation in the insulin market in anticipation of the coming launch of its insulin glargine formulation). Another video offered a tutorial on the novel mechanism of BIL (peglispro), Lilly’s phase 3 novel basal insulin appears to be one of the most differentiated insulin products that we have seen in a while (both in terms of benefit and risk); overall, we were extremely impressed with all the offerings for patients. When we think about how comprehensive this booth will be in several years, we do a double take – wow! .

Lilly & Boehringer Ingelheim

Lilly/BI’s eye-catching booth was half corporate exhibit, half rustic outdoor vacation backdrop, with sleek white displays and furniture interspersed with wooden floors and colorful fabric. A  model of a mountain road, complete with iPad-controlled jeeps that attendees could “drive,” was intended to symbolize Trajenta (linagliptin) and Jentadueto’s (linagliptin/metformin) potential to “equip [patients] for the journey ahead.” This is very cool and very smart given how much men (not to be sexist) think about cars.  The display was far more elaborate than what we’ve seen from the diabetes alliance partners at recent conferences in the US, and we would be interested to know if anything in particular stimulated this massive exhibit hall push – see our Lilly 2Q14 report for the most recent update on the shared portfolio. This was also the first time we have seen a large share of the exhibit dedicated to the recently approved SGLT-2 inhibitor Jardiance (empagliflozin); attendees were welcomed by an enormous banner describing the drug as “a pill that speaks to ME” and an invitation to help construct a fabric mural with the same message, with proceeds going to support the EASD.

Medtronic

For the first time, Medtronic’s booth had a major focus on type 2 diabetes. This was not a big surprise to see, given that the Opt2mise trial results were published in the Lancet in July (an RCT comparing pumps to MDI in type 2s), a type 2 partnership with Sanofi was announced at ADA, and Medtronic’s June 2014 Analyst Day had a major focus on type 2 diabetes. Signage at the top of the booth proclaimed, “Proven stellar results for type 1 and type 2 diabetes,” while Paradigm pump business cards advertised four posters on the Opt2mise trial here at EASD (#’s 999, 1002, 1009, and 1012). Another sign highlighted the trial’s finding of a 1.1% decline in A1c, a 20% reduction in insulin dose (vs. MDI), and zero severe hypoglycemia events/ketoacidosis. Color handouts displayed the nice infographic summarizing the trial’s results. The other side of Medtronic’s booth included display models of the Paradigm Veo, Enlite, and MiniMed Duo combination CGM/infusion set. Unlike recent exhibit halls we’ve seen, Medtronic did not choose to showcase any next-gen products (e.g., MiniMed 640G, closed-loop system) – we admit we wer quite depressed about this. .

  • Off to the side of the booth, a small stand passed out brochures on the Mosaic Project, “A new paradigm for early diagnosis of T2DM and prediabetic states.” The project is co-funded by the EU and seeks to develop mathematical models and algorithms to enhance the current tools and standards for the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Medtronic – Spain is one of 10 partners on the project. Gosh we are glad to see some making movement on the pre-diabetes front. This is a solvable problem!

Merck (MSD)

Merck had a fairly sizable booth located near the exhibit hall entrance, with its signature white and green color scheme. The company centered its booth around Januvia (sitagliptin) and Janumet (sitagliptin/metformin), with a slightly heavier focus on Janumet. This shift in focus may be a response to the fact that Janumet has been the main driver of Januvia franchise growth in recent quarters. While both Januvia and Janumet were featured on tablet screens around the booth, the company had a large wall solely dedicated to Janumet that urged visitors to “consider sitagliptin as your preferred partner to metformin instead of a sulfonylurea.” The wall emphasized the combination’s A1c-lowering efficacy, weight neutrality, and low risk of hypoglycemia, displaying results of two clinical studies and one observational study. In one corner of the booth, the company cleverly set up charging stations inviting attendees to “recharge [their] patients’ commitment to improve their glycemic control.” In addition, the booth featured a popular smoothie bar (a nice break from all of the coffee in the exhibit hall) as well as a tabletop interactive screen, where attendees could review clinical data and customize handouts for patients.

Novartis

Novartis appeared to have one of the most well attended booths, which was full of interactive activities. Many attendees swarmed around the booth’s cycling area, where they had the opportunity to cycle on stationary bikes along a simulated scenic route displayed on screens in front of them, while being intermittently quizzed on facts about the global diabetes epidemic. As a representative explained, Novartis donates 10 Euros to IDF for each completed ride, no matter how well the cyclist performs; by mid-afternoon on Tuesday, the company had already raised over 1,500 Euros. We loved this! The cycling area was accompanied by a wall of interactive screens featuring statistics on the global diabetes epidemic and the Twitter hashtag #Time2DoMore, which was gaining substantial attention online. The ring above the booth featured Lucentis (ranibizumab for diabetic macular edema and other ophthalmologic indications), Eucreas (metformin/vildagliptin), and Galvus (vildagliptin); Lucentis seemed to be the biggest focus, as the back of the booth emphasized the importance of eye health with goggle simulators of diabetic macular edema. To top it all off, the Novartis booth also featured an A1c testing station (this has historically been Novo Nordisk’s exhibit hall mainstay).

Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk’s glossy white exhibit featured the recently launched ultra-long-acting basal insulin Tresiba (insulin degludec). Excitingly, Ryzodeg (premixed insulin degludec/insulin aspart) was being featured prominently – a few weeks ago, Mexico became the first country to launch Ryzodeg, and it is exciting to see Europe now following suit, although we still see Xultophy (insulin degludec/liraglutide) as (BY FAR!) the most promising combination involving Tresiba. Novo Nordisk’s market-leading GLP-1 agonist Victoza (liraglutide) also received a substantial amount of real estate. The floor was filled with sales reps giving presentations on the company’s diabetes portfolio against a backdrop of enormous screens displaying efficacy and safety data, as well as members of the all-diabetes Team Novo Nordisk eagerly recruiting participants for the EASD 5K run/walk this coming Thursday.

Philosys

Philosys’ small booth near the rear of the exhibit advertised their full range of meter products: the Gmate Smart, Gmate Origin, Gmate Voice, and Gmate Wheel. As we learned, the latter is a EU-only product that features a somewhat-clunky manual wheel to eject strips. Management highlighted that there are no plans to bring the device to the US – “that kind of design is just not going to work.” It was an odd assessment and we don’t understand the vision there. The company’s smartphone-connected glucose meter, the Gmate Smart, will be one of the smallest on the US market (approximately thumbnail-sized and the thickness of two US quarters), plugs directly into the headphone jack of a user’s device, and works via the complementary Gmate app (free on the Apple and Google Play stores). The booth representative informed us that a US launch is scheduled “by the end of 2014” – this represents a slight delay relative to the “late September” timeline we heard following the FDA 501(k) clearance announcement earlier this month, though this may have simply been an approximation. Representatives also highlighted the strong performance of the Gmate Voice in the US market, which was attributed to the large screen (iPhone 4-like size) and audio component – we could certainly see how these features would appeal to elderly patients relative to the smaller meters and screens being developed. The company has plans to promote the product more aggressively in the EU going forward. Last, we heard an update on the company’s pipeline – Philosys has submitted the Gmate Origin for CE Marking and has no plans, yet, to bring the product to the US. The device is a “simple” meter (no audio function – i.e., not a next-generation Voice) and the company is optimistic for a 2015 EU launch.

Sanofi

The company’s bright white booth had prime placement right in front of the entrance to the exhibit hall. The floor plan was quite open, and Sanofi’s entire diabetes drug and device portfolio was represented across the space. The market-leading basal insulin Lantus (insulin glargine) received slightly more focus, and enjoyed prime placement in the section of the booth that fronted the busiest corridor and hall entrance. The “1 you know” message that we saw at ADA appeared again here, with a display emphasizing the over 60 million patient-years of experience that the product has under its belt. The GLP-1 agonist Lyxumia (lixisenatide) and rapid-acting insulin Apidra (insulin glulisine) were positioned as partners for Lantus, with Lyxumia (not currently approved in the US) described as “a positive addition” and Apidra labeled “an ideal partner” to Lantus. One corner of the booth was taken up by a mini-presentation stage, where a short trivia contest was occurring; each participant raised 10 Euros towards the overall donation goal of 25,000 Euros. At the center of the booth, the JuniorStar insulin pen received a lot of attention (see our EASD Exhibit Hall coverage from last year for more details) as part of the continued campaign to “lighten lives” of type 1 diabetes patients. The MyStar Extra BGM, which we first saw at EASD last year, was once again a focus product at the booth – the MyStar Extra provides patients with a three-day fasting glucose average, a trend arrow, and even an A1c estimate. It is now available in eight European countries: Spain, Italy, the UK, Germany, France, Estonia, Switzerland, and Belgium.

Sooil

The Sooil booth at the back of the exhibit hall was advertising the Dana Ubiquitous insulin pump with a new feature, ANYDANA Android. This mobile app will allow patients to use an Android phone to dose insulin, adjust pump settings, and view pump history. The product is awaiting a CE Mark, which is expected early next year. Once cleared, the rep told us that the pump will be marketed in Europe through distributors (he specifically mentioned Italy). The rep attempted to demo the product for us, but after four tries, was unable to Bluetooth pair the smartphone and the pump (he admitted it was still under development and was not perfect). If it comes to market, this would represent the first commercially available pump that we are aware of that would allow insulin dosing from a smartphone app.

Takeda

Takeda’s exhibit featured a red/blue/purple color scheme, with many of the company’s drugs’ names displayed throughout the booth. The ring above the booth highlighted Vipidia (alogliptin), Vipdomet (alogliptin/metformin), and Incresync (alogliptin/pioglitazone) as “new” drugs, and animated holograph-like Earth images were featured on stands with the words, “NEW Vipidia Alogliptin tablets.” In addition, several interactive screens sprinkled around the booth showcased information on drugs including Actos (pioglitazone) and the antihypertensive agent Edarbi. In addition, the booth included some impressive aesthetic touches, such as a chandelier hanging above its coffee bar and a bridge-like structure framing a room with a video promoting the company’s motto, “Better health, brighter future.”

VPD

VPD’s modest booth exclusively promoted the company’s 2in1 Smart platform as an “All-in-one solution for diabetes.” VPD is the international distributor for Philosys, so the 2in1 Smart BGM is the same smartphone-connected glucose meter marketed by Philosys under the Gmate Smart label. However, VPD has innovated upon the Gmate platform and, according to representatives, plans to introduce a next-generation mobile app (called “InRange”) that was developed exclusively by VPD. Notably, this app will feature a bolus calculator that will take preset data (e.g., carb ratios, sensitivity factor, active insulin, and target) along with food and activity information to provide dosing advice. Uniquely, carbohydrate information will not need to be entered manually – rather, the app allows users to create a personal library of foods with carbohydrate values attached (e.g., 1 slice of toast: 10 g, 1 bowl of pasta: 50 g) that they can then select from when requesting bolus advice. Management is optimistic that its application for a CE Mark will be approved soon, largely on the basis of positive clinical trial results – the app reportedly allows patients to use less insulin and more consistently stay in their target glucose range. The company hopes to launch the platform in the “next couple months,” which will be made available free-of-charge on the Apple and Google Play stores. The company also plans to introduce additional, non-critical features that will require a fee, such as options to input weight and height for more accurate bolus advice or to include additional nutritional information (e.g., fat content) in the food library. Last, representatives highlighted that the app will sync with the cloud, allowing healthcare providers and parents access data as well.

Ypsomed

Ypsomed’s Swiss themed, sleek white booth showcased the mylife OmniPod, Unio BGM, and Clickfine pen needles. We learned that the OmniPod is now available in eight European countries (Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy), and a rep told us the company has a 10-20% market share in each. We also received a demo of the Unio meter and were reminded of its intelligent, low hassle design – the all-in one case enables patients to check their blood glucose without removing the meter, the strip vial, or the lancing device.

 

-- by Melissa An, Adam Brown, Varun Iyengar, Emily Regier, Manu Venkat, and Kelly Close

-- The authors thank Eric Chang, Hannah Deming, Jessica Dong, Nina Ran, and Melissa Tjota for additional help on conference writing and editing