A promising innovation in insulin delivery: the OneTouch Via patch

The pain of insulin injections is well-documented, and the diabetes community is always searching for better alternatives. One such promising technology is the long-awaited OneTouch Via, an insulin patch pump from Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Calibra Medical.

Designed for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, the OneTouch Via is a very small (2 x 1 x 0.25 inches) patch pump that stores up to 200 units of prandial (aka fast-acting) insulin, which can be delivered by discretely pressing two mechanical buttons on both sides of the pump. It can be worn for up to 3 days, and would be used in combination with basal (or long-acting) insulin.

 

A replacement for Multiple Daily Injections

Both doctors and patients dread starting multiple daily insulin injections (aka MDI). It means more painful pokes, more potential for public embarrassment, and more opportunities to forget a dose of insulin. Thanks to new classes of non-insulin therapies (eg Victoza, Trulicity, Invokana, etc), starting mealtime insulin can often be prevented or delayed, but millions of people with Type 2 diabetes (and all with Type 1) will still require MDI.

Mealtime insulin usually requires carrying around insulin injection supplies (insulin pens and needles or vials and syringes) and injecting before meals, which can be embarrassing and/or cumbersome. Traditional insulin pumps present their own challenges, as most have long tubing and complicated electronic interfaces that are not user-friendly.

Similar to the V-Go from Valeritas, the OneTouch Via is an entirely mechanical, tubeless, and disposable patch pump. There is no screen or complicated electronics, which keeps costs down, and makes for an easy-to-use interface. The user just presses two buttons down at the same time to deliver mealtime insulin, in 2 unit increments. This can be done through clothing, so a user could easily and discretely take 12 units (as an example) with six button presses done through their fabric.

Another advantage for both types of diabetes is that the OneTouch Via allows users to easily take additional boluses, for small snacks or hyperglycemic episodes that would otherwise require a new injection.

In study data shared at the 2016 American Diabetes Association Meeting, users wearing the OneTouch Via reported injecting mealtime insulin 50% more often than they had previously done with pen or vial, and 88% of them reported that they worried less about forgetting insulin injections.

Unlike the V-Go, the Via can be worn for 3 days and stores up to 200 units (the V-Go stores only 36units and must be changed every day). Also unlike the V-Go, the Via only replaces mealtime insulin and should be used in conjunction with basal (long-acting) insulin.

The Rocky Road Ahead

As the marketing efforts for inhaled insulin and the Valeritas V-Go have shown, replacing mealtime insulin injections in market and mindshare isn’t as easy as one would expect.

While 75% and 100% of providers in the previously mentioned study preferred the Via over insulin pens and insulin syringes respectively, providers in the community can be slower to adopt and more wary of newer technologies.

Also, adhesive patches and wearable devices are not the ideal solutions for all people. Patients can develop skin reactions to the adhesive or feel burdened when a device is stuck to their body, no matter how small.

Perhaps in light of these concerns, the OneTouch Via had been previously slated for release in early 2017, but now might face delays in light of JnJ’s recent intentions to explore the sale of their diabetes division.

3 Comments
  1. I am a 56 yr old Type 1 Diabetic. I recently had to go off the insulin pump, which I have been on for about 10 years. I am still having high blood sugars often, since being on shots again. My doctor has tweeked my insulin doses a bit. Do you have any other suggestions for me on adjusting my daily schedules with nutrition (carbs, protein, etc…..), exercise, etc…..

    • Well the first part of the answer would be that it’s unfortunate that you had to go off the pump. I’m assuming there must be some financial issue, but if you were doing well on the pump before, do anything you can to get back on it. Also, in addition to lifestyle, you want to be on a very good, flat basal insulin and make sure it’s adjusted appropriately by fasting overnight and seeing how your blood sugars do (i.e. have an early dinner and don’t eat anything until the next morning and if your basal is set correctly, your morning blood sugars should not be that different than your bedtime blood sugar.) And the other issue is make sure you get a continuous glucose monitor, dose your insulin early before meals and pay attention to the trend arrows. There’s so much more but it these are some basic ideas and of course discuss everything with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diabetes regimen.

    • I managing my son who is type 1 (9 year old now). He was diagnosed 1.5 year ago.
      Now I say he would really go on pump, but he is too young to manage.
      So my advice depend on what insulin you use.
      Generally you need to exercise/walk every day, eat smaller portions but more frequent and check your sugar level every time before eating (occasionally 1.5-2 hours after eating). Count the carbs and also see if a food is lowglycemic or high glycemic, so the timing of the insulin is also very important.
      My son get Levemir for night time. With Levemir I have to make sure he is not too high before bed time or not too low. If he is too low he will go high by the morning (as your body will pump more sugar into your bloodstream) if he is 9-10 he can go low by the morning. Ideal is around 6-7, then he would wake up with the same (if the dosage is correct what I’m giving).
      It is almost like with a pump, but you have to inject the insulin every time before and during meal and that is needle everytime you do it. With pump you wouldn’t feel the pain that much I assume. We never tried pump though.

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