Sanofi Launches iBGStar: New Blood Glucose Meter for iPhone

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iBGStar with iPhoneI was invited, along with several other diabetes patient online influencers, to Sanofi’s corporate office in Bridgewater, N.J. May 1. It was the eve of their launch of iBGStar.

iBGStar is the first FDA-approved blood glucose meter that plugs into an iPhone and iPod touch and is to be used with the iBGStar Diabetes Manager App.

I will get to the specs of the device shortly, but first I think it’s important to note what I am witnessing — and celebrating — more and more: the sure and steady rise of the patient. 

Sanofi, the third-leading global pharmaceutical company, is interested in what patients have to say. So is Roche, who invites me and 30-plus diabetes patient influencers to its annual social summit, and Medtronics, that just held its second annual event with patients.

While Marshall McLuhan’s famous line, “the medium is the message,” was oft-quoted during my college years, today patients are becoming deliverers of the message, especially in the online space. It’s smart business and, I should say, a healthy paradigm shift for all concerned as pharmaceutical Goliaths increasingly realize and respect the growing power of us little “Davids.”

Sanofi, maker of long-acting Lantus and rapid-acting Apidra insulins, is reaching beyond product into devices and services. Shawna Gvazdauskas, VP and Device Head U.S., told us the mission is to, “Meet patients where they live and improve their experience managing diabetes.” To be customer-centric through innovative and integrated solutions. The part I liked best was when she talked about “delighting customers.”

The iBGStar can be used as a stand-alone device. It has its own display where you’ll see your glucose reading. When you later attach it to your iPhone or iPod touch it will automatically download your data. When measuring your blood sugar while the iBGStar is attached to your iPhone or iPod touch, your number shows up on the small and large display.

SanofiUSDiabetes
Sanofi's Shawna Gvazdauskas, Brian Dolan of mobile health news, me, Emily Coles, Laura Kolodjeski, Sanofi Senior Manager, Patient solutions, Allison Blass of DiabetesMine, Kim Vlasnik of Texting My Pancreas.com, Kerri Sparling of SixUntilMe.com, Adam Brown and Kelly Close of Close Concerns, blogger Leighann Calentine and analyst David Kliff of Diabetic Investor attended the meeting but left before the photo was taken.

The hope is that patients will spend more time with their numbers during idle time during their day and consequently better manage their blood sugar. For doctors, their patients will have their logs with them when they arrive at their appointment or can email them ahead.

As you can see, the iBGStar is the width of an iPhone and less than 1 inch tall. It’s light as a feather, has a 6 second countdown, uses 0.5 microliter blood size — one of the smallest amounts — and meets accuracy requirements.

The iBGStar Diabetes Manager App captures blood glucose readings, records carbs and insulin doses, tags readings according to mealtimes and allows you to add customized notes regarding meals and exercise. You can analyze your data using a logbook, trend chart and statistics. Color-coded screens indicate if blood glucose is too high or too low.

A “share” function allows specific data to be sent via email to your doctor. 

The iBGStar is available for purchase at Apple retail stores and Walgreens stores nationwide and online at Apple.com, Walgreens.com and through Diabetic Care Services. It’s priced at about $100 through Apple and comes with 50 test strips. It’s about $75 at Walgreens and comes with 10 test strips. The iBGStar Diabetes Manager App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore.

Sanofi offers a copay savings cardso strips will not cost more than $20 per order. Plus, plans are afoot to integrate Sanofi’s GoMeals App with the iBGStar Diabetes Manager App.

So, is this just moving chairs around on the Titanic, or a real advancement for helping patients better manage their blood sugar? I imagine only time and slated studies to analyze patient use will tell. People on average currently check their blood sugar .83 times (less than once) a day. 

Given that only 1.6 million people are today potential users for Sanofi — those who have diabetes and iPhones or an iPod touch — it’s a small pool, and a large commitment. Then again, we have to start somewhere.

Disclosure: I was given a free iBGStar to leave with, my transportation to the meeting was paid for by Sanofi and lunch was provided. I was not asked to write this post.

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Darren Carson
Darren Carson

If they invited you because you are an “influencer” don’t you think they expected you to do some “influencing?”  after the meeting, e.g. writing a post sharing info about their product.

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