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October 22, 2016
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Potash Aeronautics Announces Approval of Flying Automobile

When I first read the news of Medtronic’s “artificial pancreas” receiving FDA approval last week, I was just confused. How could that be? I knew that a lot of progress had been made, but wow, I thought - those five years really went by fast!

To me, it reeked of deceptive marketing and it kind of pissed me off. “Medtronic Gains Approval of First Artificial Pancreas Device System with Threshold Suspend Automation.” That was the headline of their press release.

For me it was the equivalent of Potash Aeronautics announcing U.S. approval of its flying automobile after simply getting the OK for its patented steering wheel.

With the major elements of an artificial pancreas still several years away from market, calling this anything more than a new and exciting feature is pure poppycock in my opinion. Yeah, I said it. Poppycock! Further, using the logic that this is just a piece of the artificial pancreas puzzle, then one could argue that Medtronic’s continuous glucose monitoring system was its true first-generation artificial pancreas. But I don’t recall it being marketed in that way.

More accurate and less misleading would have been, “Medtronic Gains Approval of Threshold Suspend Automation.” The company could then cite suspend automation as one of the key elements in the future development of an artificial pancreas. This is not to take away the great achievement and overall coolness of the announcement. Automatic suspend during hypoglycemia is fantastic news and could absolutely save lives.

I had the opportunity to discuss my view of feeling misled with a news reporter who wrote about the approval of this first-generation artificial pancreas. She was baffled as to how the type 1 diabetes community could feel anything other than elation over the news.

I told her about an extremely informed community that knows automatic suspend has been available to people in Europe for a very long time and knows very well that it is not even close to being an artificial pancreas.

It’s a community that is constantly fighting the misconceptions of the non-informed and correcting people who think they can be cured if they only ate better and exercised more often. With this announcement; this overstatement, I told her, the community is again bracing for a barrage of misinformation fired in their direction. Yes, they are thrilled with this news, I told her, but these are people who have been told a cure is right around the corner for 20-plus years. They are tired of inaccurate information. They are frustrated.

Then I hopped off my soap box.

And worked on my flying automobile.

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