Medtronic taps Qualcomm to build smaller, cheaper continuous glucose monitors

By Jonah Comstock
03:13 pm
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Medtronic announced that it will work with Qualcomm Life to develop a new generation of smaller, affordable continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) for people with Type 2 diabetes, the companies announced today.

Currently, CGM devices are mostly prescribed for people with Type 1 diabetes, while those with Type 2 are more likely to use discrete finger-prick glucometers. However, this new partnership aims to leverage Qualcomm's expertise to develop CGMs that are smaller, easier to use, and more affordable than currently available CGMs -- in the hopes of making the technology available to those with Type 2 diabetes, an addressable market more than 20 times larger.

The device could also potentially be disposable, and could lead to "CGM solutions that not only measure glucose but enable the delivery of actionable insights to both patients and providers," according to a press release from the companies.

"Our vision is to transform diabetes care so people with diabetes can enjoy greater freedom and better health," Laura Stoltenberg, vice president and general manager of non-intensive diabetes therapies at Medtronic, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to be collaborating with Qualcomm Life -- a best-in-class leader in wireless technologies that is ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing connected world -- to develop innovative and affordable CGM systems that will fundamentally change Type 2 diabetes management."

If the details of the partnership sound familiar, it may be because Medtronic competitor DexCom made a similar announcement last summer: only their partner was Google Life Sciences, now known as Verily. DexCom announced that it had partnered with Verily to develop a device that is "the size of a dime", less expensive than current CGMs, and that is intended not just for people with Type 1 diabetes but also for those with Type 2 diabetes.

Qualcomm has worked with a number of major healthcare companies to develop device pilots over the last few years including pharma companies Roche, Novartis, and GSK, pharmacy chain Walgreens, and health insurer UnitedHealthcare. The company also sponsors the Tricorder X Prize, a $10 million contest to develop a comprehensive home health scanner.

Medtronic has embarked on a number of partnerships of its own recently on the diabetes side. It's working with Samsung to optimize the viewing of CGM and pump data from its MiniMed Connect offering and tapping IBM Watson to apply cognitive computing to data from Medtronic's CareLink Connect system.