New ‘artificial pancreas’ technology rollout announced

In draft guidance, an independent NICE committee has recommended the use of hybrid closed loop systems for managing blood glucose levels in Type 1 diabetes – technology that has been described as a step towards an artificial pancreas.

Real world NHS trials has provided data which has allowed NICE to consider wider use of the technology, which comprises a continuous glucose monitor sensor attached to the body. This transmits data to a body-worn insulin pump that calculates out how much insulin needs to be delivered into the body to keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range.

NICE has recommended that people who are unable to control their condition using an insulin pump, or real-time or intermittently scanned continuous glucose monitoring, are offered the technology if their long-term average HbA1c readings are 8.0% or more. People with Type 1 diabetes who are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy are also eligible, because blood glucose levels are harder to manage during this time. In total, around 105,000 of the 278,000 people in England and Wales who are living with Type 1 diabetes could be offered the technology.

The draft recommendations also require NHS England to agree a cost-effective price for the systems on behalf of relevant health bodies. At present, an average annual cost for the technology is £5,744, which is higher than what NICE considers a cost-effective use of NHS resources.

Professor Partha Kar OBE, national specialty advisor for diabetes at NHS England, said: “This technology has been proven to give the best control for managing Type 1 diabetes and should make things like amputations, blindness, and kidney problems possibly a thing of the past. We have seen fantastic results from the real-world trials which have taken place and thank you to NICE for their review of the evidence and subsequent conclusions. The quality of life this technology gives to those using it is huge.”

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