Editor’s note: One of CDN’s virtual interns (and now Program Assistant), Zach, interviewed Kevin Sayer, the President and CEO of Dexcom, about the new Dexcom G6 that just gained FDA approval in the US. Dexcom is a CDN Corporate Member. The Dexcom G6 is indicated by the FDA for use as both a standalone CGM and for integration into automated insulin dosing (AID) systems. The Dexcom G6 is the first CGM to receive this classification by the FDA.
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Zach: What are the new features of the G6 and how does it differ from the previous versions of the Dexcom?
Kevin: There are more differences from G6 to G5 than in any other system we’ve ever launched.
- The base that’s on your body and the transmitter have a slimmer profile. I think for a mechanical system there’s a large differentiation.
- The insertion system is completely new, and it’s an automated insertion system. If you’re familiar with G5, that applicator that you’ve been dealing with forever has been replaced with a one button push device, so you can peel the tape off the bottom, put it on your skin, pull the safety tab off the top, push the button, and you’re done. You’ll never see the needle and the needle comes in and out of your skin in milliseconds. It’s really a remarkable experience for our patients.
A pure system differentiation is that we have new membrane technology, meaning we block acetaminophen interference.
From a practical use perspective, the thing that would be the most important to me is that the system is engineered for no calibration. So, once you put that G6 on and get it set up and paired with your phone, no calibration is required.
- The accuracy and performance of the no calibration system is very similar to what we have in G5. One of the things we’ve heard in conversations is that it scares some people; they want to calibrate their system, so we looped a feature in so that if you choose to use your system with calibration, you can do that, especially if they feel the system is off or if they have great variations in their blood sugars. As we look into the future of automated insulin delivery systems, those systems require calibrations to run properly, so we think we’ve given patients maximum flexibility there.
- There will be an android and iOS mobile app and will operate very similarly to how the G5 operates today.
- There’s an additional alert in the system, a predictive low alert, that triggers an alarm if you’re going to go below your urgent low threshold. We’re going to tell you instead of letting you wait to hit that threshold. If we see something that indicates that you’re going to get down there, then we’re going to alert you.
- The sensor now has a 10 day life, compared to 7 days currently.
There are a number of good features in this system and it’s very different from what we do today. It’s the biggest change we’ve ever had.
Zach: Any features of the new system that college students specifically can benefit from?
Kevin: I think the benefit that they’ll get from G6 is that the experience is so much better. It will be so much easier to stay on CGM all the time. I really believe that the compliance and the convenience of the G6 system, beyond the fact that we offer the android and the iOS apps, are the no calibrations. I think that will be a much better experience for our patients, I really do.
Zach: Will there be any changes/improvements to the Share feature?
Kevin: It’s still there. Share is still part of G6. It will be the same system for a while, but it’s next on our upgrade list. It’s been out for a while and we needed to get the G6 out, but it’s next on our mind to upgrade. I won’t get into the specifics, but there will be a lot of changes to Share in the future.
Zach: Tell me about insertion.
Kevin: One click button and very painless. That’s the feedback we’ve gotten from our focus groups.
Zach: How can someone on G5 upgrade to G6?
Kevin: We will have a couple of upgrade paths. We will have a path for out of warranty patients, in warranty patients, and certainly what will happen is we want our patients staying on CGM.
The beauty of our G6 system and the 3 month transmitters is that you aren’t tied to a system for a year or four years like you are with an insulin pump.
You can go right over to G6 the next time you purchase. If a patient has to buy a new transmitter now or a couple transmitters now, we’ll have a program where when the G6 becomes available and you’ve already gotten new transmitters, when your transmitter expires, even if you have two left, we’ll take back your extra G5s and swap it for a G6. The G5 sensors won’t be useful with G6, so patients will have to manage those purchases.
As always, we offer our patients a reasonable upgrade path, and the transmitters 3 month life helps to make that path easy to navigate for our patients. The G6 has a three month transmitter life as well.
Zach: Tell me how Dexcom can benefit young adults managing T1D.
Kevin: I think it’s a really good safety net. When I was in college, I needed some kind of safety net, and I think that is something that we all need. With so many changes in your life, leaving home, new friends, new social life, new curfew, having that CGM on to give you that constant stream of information, alerts, low alarms, and the ability to Share is a great safety net, which is something we underestimated at first (the psychological and family aspects of Share). We’ve talked to many young people who don’t like Share because it harms the family environment, we need a user guide!
EDITOR’S NOTE: CDN’s new Off to College Booklets for students and parents discusses navigating the Share feature with family and friends, and much more! Check them out.
The last thing you want to worry about when you get into college, especially during finals, is your diabetes. The G6 system will help to reduce that worry and help you focus more on your studies than your diabetes. I wouldn’t want to go to school without that safety net if it were me.
Zach: Do you have any advice for working in the diabetes sector?
Kevin: I would certainly look at diabetes companies and look at the jobs we have available. I’d give the same advice I give my children: nothing makes you more qualified for a diabetes job than being excellent at your studies.
Understand that we hire like other companies; we look at everything that you do and make sure that you do the best you can. I started here in 2011, I was on the board for 3 years before that, and we grew from around 300 employees to almost 3,000. We need to make sure you position yourself to get that job regardless of your medical condition. The diabetes perspective is really good, but we have to balance that with education and experience. A lot of jobs require a lot of experience, so while you might not be able to enter that position right out of college, it’s something you could get with a bit of experience. That being said, we do fill lots of entry level positions with students fresh out of college, so there are lots of opportunities to become involved in the diabetes community. Do well in school, that’s the most important thing you can do.
Zach: How can young adults be involved in testing and trying the latest Dexcom products and upgrades?
Kevin: That’s pretty tough for us. We run a lot of tests and clinical studies here at Dexcom, but we haven’t been in a situation where we’ve done a set up and put it on people. I think as we work on new products in the future, we need to think about that. We haven’t done a real good job at that because our trials have to be relatively structured, we can’t just have people sign up and we take them, but that’s something we need to think through in order to make these trials more accessible to young adults and those who are interested in trying the technology we have to offer. We should do better in the future.
Zach: Tell me about Dexcom’s corporate partnership with CDN.
Kevin: I think the way relationships like this help us accelerate innovation is they give us a path by which we can listen. It’s very important to us that we listen to what our patients have to say. When you’re a scientist and measuring glucose is the technology, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the technology and we forget what people want and what they really need.
I think the G6 system really solves those issues. You’ll hear us emphasize the Dexcom experience over the product. It’s about the product you want and the experience you want in order to put yourself where you want to be, and that’s our goal, to get you there. Our partnership with CDN and partnerships like this give us the opportunity to be a more rapid innovator over time.
I admire what you guys do and the CDN Network that you have. One of the most endearing things about this community are the relationships served by your network. Those relationships are lifelong things and they don’t go away, and the work that CDN does to build those relationships is remarkable and I’d encourage any college kid to get involved.