Thinking Differently About Glucagon with Gvoke HypoPen®

Contributor
Evan Strat, Georgia Institute of Technology '21

I recently had the pleasure to speak with Paul Edick, the Chairman and CEO of Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Inc., about Gvoke HypoPen®, a ready-to-use form of glucagon.

As a person with type one diabetes, one of my biggest fears has always been low blood sugar. Thankfully, up to this point, I’ve always been able to treat my lows by myself by eating fast-acting carbohydrates. But what do you do when a person with diabetes has passed out from low blood sugar, or if eating carbs is not working to raise low blood sugar?

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"But what do you do when a person with diabetes has passed out from low blood sugar?"

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Traditionally, Edick told me, the legacy red glucagon kits existed for this purpose but with a big problem: because these kits require so many precise steps to use correctly, many people did not use them or used them incorrectly. The root of the problem is that at the time these legacy kits were developed, liquid forms of glucagon were only stable for about a day. As a result, the injection procedure first required users to rehydrate the powdered glucagon, vastly complicating the process.

To change the status quo, Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. worked for 12 years to create their liquid formulation of glucagon, which Edick says is stable for up to 30 months (from the date of manufacturing based on the adult 1mg dose)! From the beginning, Xeris consulted people with diabetes who use insulin, who stated that the legacy glucagon kits were too complicated and difficult to use. It was too intimidating to teach to your grandparents, your roommate, or even a friend what to do in an emergency. However, with its stable liquid glucagon formulation, Gvoke® requires just two-steps to administer, which Edick says is a “night and day” difference.

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"From the beginning, Xeris consulted people with diabetes who use insulin, who stated that the legacy glucagon kits were too complicated and difficult to use."

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Edick emphasized that getting the word out about Gvoke is so crucial because each year, less than 10% of the six million people in the United States taking insulin even fill a prescription for glucagon. To this end, making the product accessible to all of those on insulin is a major goal for Edick. He noted that a $0 copay card for Gvoke is currently available, which significantly reduces the cost of Gvoke for commercially insured patients. Edick also noted that the Gvoke HypoPen comes in a two pack, so people with diabetes can always have HypoPen® ready to go should they need it - he suggested keeping one at home and one in a backpack. Xeris has lots of great information on their website if people want to learn more, including information on how to administer the glucagon.

After speaking with Edick, I could not be more excited about how having options like Gvoke will improve the safety of the millions of people with diabetes who take insulin. For me, knowing that the people close to me actually understand how to administer glucagon and can do that successfully in an emergency provides me with peace of mind.

 

Editor's note: CDN is committed to ensuring that young adults have the information they need to make informed choices about their healthcare. Given the recent innovations in glucagon, we wanted to highlight stories about new treatment options. Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a CDN Corporate Member. 

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Evan Strat
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Evan Strat is a master's student studying Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology and has had T1D for 12 years.  After graduating from Georgia Tech in Fall 2021, Evan will be working full-time at Duolingo in Pittsburgh, PA, as an operations engineer.  While an undergraduate student, Evan served as Vice President of the Georgia Tech CDN Chapter and was the Co-Director of HackGT, a student organization that hosts hackathons and other computer science education events. Outside of school, Evan enjoys keeping up with the latest diabetes technology, playing the clarinet in the Georgia Tech Marching Band, and skiing.