The U.K. is giving patients a treatment for the type of diabetes Ozempic can’t treat

The U.K. is giving patients a treatment for the type of diabetes Ozempic can’t treat

Mirror reflection of woman with type-1 diabetes in workout gear checking her insulin pump and infusion site.

An artificial pancreas system is made up of a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump.
Image: Matt Harbicht (Getty Images)

The National Health Service in England will give out thousands of artificial pancreas systems to patients living with Type 1 diabetes, the government agency announced today.

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The NHS has provided £2.5 million ($3.1 million) to local health systems in England to start identifying eligible patients for the first-in-the world program.

“This futuristic technology not only improves medical care but also enhances the quality of life for those affected,” NHS National Speciality Advisor for Diabetes Partha Kar said in statement.

The NHS expects to deliver the systems to all eligible patients over the next five years. There are currently about 300,000 people living with Type 1 diabetes in England, according to the agency. The World Health Organization says there are 9 million people living with Type 1 diabetes globally.

How does an artificial pancreas work?

An artificial pancreas, sometimes called a closed loop system, is used to treat Type 1 diabetes, a condition where a person’s pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that helps blood sugar or glucose enter a body’s cells for energy. Without insulin, blood sugar can build up in a person’s blood stream leading to health complications.

In contrast, Type 2 diabetes is a condition where a person’s cells become insulin resistant and their pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to compensate. A class of drugs known as GLP-1 agonists, such as Ozempic, treat Type 2 diabetes by stimulating hormones that signal the pancreas to release more insulin.

Traditionally, people with diabetes have to manually monitor their glucose levels multiple times a day and give themselves synthetic insulin either through an injection or a pump.

An artificial pancreas is a system of medical devices — a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump that work together to track a user’s glucose levels and automatically determine and deliver how much insulin they need. Depending on the device, users may still need to manually input information on how many carbohydrates they ate during a meal.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first approved an artificial pancreas system in 2016. Since then, there are now at least six artificial pancreas systems available in the U.S. market.

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