Should it Really Be Called………an Artificial Pancreas?

Artifical RealLet’s be one million percent clear from the onset: I, like the rest of the diabetes world, would love nothing better but to see a CGM communicate with an insulin pump for better control and to alarm the world when things derail.  It would, and will, revolutionize the management of type 1 diabetes.  But the more I speak to people newly into this diabetes world of ours, there is an inherent problem I’m finding with what is commonly being called an artificial or bionic pancreas.  In speaking to people at the ADA conference this week my feelings were not completely unique.  Inasmuch as many believe that a good deal of people completely ‘get it’, many also think that others might think this device will be almost like placing diabetes in automatic……and it is this thought of which I caution.

I, personally, hate the name artificial pancreas.  It isn’t.  Now it may be we get to the point of a rose is a rose by any other name but the device, as great as it will be, does not do things that a pancreas does…dispense glucagon being just one (although the plan is that the ‘bionic’ pancreas will some day).  And in looking at ways the word ‘artificial’ is used, even when looking at an artificial heart, does it really fit, as is present, in our diabetes world?

When people think of something artificial, they think of it being as close a substitute to the real thing as possible.  When these devices are hitting the market and ready to go in everyday use they will be fabulous. To me….TO ME (just me, my opinion), I think there is a better name for two electronic devices speaking to each other to monitor and dispense fluid than calling it something that it’s not; as darn good as it may become some day.  Perhaps, Integrated Insulin Delivery And Monitoring System–The IIDAMS (hmmmmmmm marketing gurus just might have a field day with THAT name;  ‘IIDAMS diabetes forever’ catch phrase….hmmmmmmm).

This is just me and I have never stated I knew any answers.  What do you think?  Do you think the name ‘Artificial, Bionic, AP, Electronic, Pancreas’, suits it?   What would you name these devices about to hit the market?
Just a thought I had…..chime in.
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4 replies on “Should it Really Be Called………an Artificial Pancreas?”

I did not like from the beginning when Medtronic came up with their new device calling it artificial pancreas. Not sure why FDA allowed to use that name on that recent device. The new systems that might be coming out are not APs and totally agree with you. It is just wrong and deceiving, perhaps for marketing reasons. There will be still highs and still lows because basals and IC ratios must be programmed and these change very often for various reasons. There still be bad sites and resistance issues, etc that these called AP devices will not fix. I’m not too crazy for these devices but will certainly stand in line patiently to try it out. Anything will help to improve life’s of our loved T1s.

Tom, It should not be called and artificial pancreas, because it is not. I raised this point when JDRF touted the release of the Medtronic 670G. I received some push back but also some support. Those who supported the not artificial pancreas several cited that companies themselves were not calling it that. Instead, they call them closed loop systems, or hybrid closed loop. If they felt comfortable calling them artificial pancreases, I know they would be.

I completely agree. This is just NOT an artificial pancreas. This is marketing hype. Love your article btw. (DiabetesMum – not officially called that!)

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