One of the most unsurprising announcements made at the Australasian Diabetes Congress was the launch of the Roche Solo insulin pump, following its TGA approval several months ago.
The Solo is the latest tubeless patch pump to hit the market here in Australia. Hopefully with the backing of Roche, it’ll be here to stay a lot longer than the late Cellnovo. We were told that subsidised consumables are expected to be listed on the NDSS in November.
The primary reason patch pumps have been so slow to hit the market here in Australia is due to the model of funding, whereby private health insurance pays for the durable component (the pump) and the NDSS pays for the consumables. Last year, Ypsomed explained that this was the reason that they were unable to launch the Omnipod on the market here, despite it receiving TGA approval many years ago. Unlike the Omnipod, the Solo has both durable and disposable components.
The pump base is the durable component, lasting up to four months. My understanding is that consumers would apply for a 12 month supply of pump bases at a time from their health insurer, perhaps due to the perishability of batches (in similar fashion to sensors). What wasn’t made clear is whether the user would be free to switch to another insulin pump after they had used the initial 12 month supply, or whether they would need to commit to a full four years of the Solo.
Like other insulin pumps, the disposable components include a cannula and reservoir. I believe that there are only 90 degree options in cannulae, but there are options for manual insertion if desired. The reservoir can hold between 80 and 200 units, and can be used for up to four days or until the battery dies. The reservoir also contains a battery, which is apparently very environmentally friendly! I believe that the reservoir connects into the pump base as shown here.
A pump holder is a third disposable component of the Solo, allowing for the pump base to be clipped on and off from the infusion set as needed. We were told that the pump needs to be disconnected from the infusion site for water activities.
There’s a diabetes manager which allows the user to control pump settings remotely. It also has a test strip port which supports AccuChek Performa strips, if memory serves correct. There are also two buttons on the pump base, which allows the user to deliver a bolus if they don’t have their diabetes manager around.
Personally, patch pumps scare me. I have seen a lot of ‘pod failures’ from Omnipod users within the DOC. I don’t like the idea of not being able to see what’s happening underneath the pod to detect a site or insulin delivery issue. Nor the fact that the reservoir and site are in one, meaning that the whole thing needs to be discarded should the something fail before its time is up.
The Solo looked far more encouraging. I liked that the reservoir was separate from the infusion site, meaning that one could be changed without affecting the other. It also means that you can inspect your infusion sets by simply removing the pump base from the infusion site. The remote diabetes manager, which is also a feature of the AccuChek Combo pump, looks fantastic and I’d love to more interoperability on the market.
More choice is always a good thing for people with diabetes. There are heaps of people who aren’t pumping because they don’t like attachment (and equally, because they are more than happy on MDI). While I’d be inclined to say that this is an option that might have people reconsider insulin pump therapy, I’m sure that the recent exit of Cellnovo has probably lost a lot of faith in the patch pump market. Hopefully, in time, the Solo might be able to restore some of that faith in the patch pump market.
On a final note, I only spent 30 minutes with this pump while frantically Tweeting out a lot of information during a breakaway session at the ADC. I’d suggest you visit the AccuChek website or speak to someone from Roche Diabetes Care if you want to be sure of anything I’ve written here.
Disclosures: Diabetes Australia covered my travel, registration, some meals and three nights accommodation in Sydney to attend the Australasian Diabetes Congress. I gave up my own time to attend, and am sharing my own thoughts, as always. Roche also supplied morning tea during a breakaway session on the Solo at the ADC.