Medtronic begins international sales of semi-closed loop Paradigm Veo diabetes device

Medtronic's Paradigm Veo

Medtronic's Paradigm Veo

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Medtronic will begin worldwide sales— minus the United States — of a device it considers a true first step toward the diabetic’s Holy Grail of an artificial pancreas.

The Paradigm Veo has been available in the United Kingdom and Ireland since June. But today the medical device giant said it will begin immediate sales in 50 other countries including Canada, Israel and Russia.

There’s no timetable for a U.S. launch, Medtronic spokeswoman Deanne McLaughlin said. The company is reviewing U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory requirements to determine what data should be in the Veo’s approval application, McLaughlin said.

“It’s an iterative process, so this is the first step,” she said of the Veo.

The Veo is referred to as a “semi-closed loop system.” It aims at helping users avoid hypoglycemia (abnormally low blood sugar) by automatically suspending insulin delivery when it senses glucose levels have fallen below a certain level.

Medtronic and other diabetes companies — including DexCom and Abbott— want to create a closed-loop system in which insulin is automatically monitored and dispensed, functioning like an artificial pancreas. Medtronic’s research in the area makes such a device one of the most promising future products at the company.

A pair of California researchers said in June they combined devices — neither of them Medtronic’s — and leapfrogged some of the problems of a closed-loop system. Also in that month, Medtronic acquired a Danish glucose-monitoring company, which it hopes to use to further its closed-loop quest.

Diabetes products accounted for more than $1.1 billion in revenue in Medtronic’s 2009 fiscal year. In first-quarter 2010 earnings announced last week, the company said diabetes sales grew to $295 million, which was 10 percent more than the previous first quarter, thanks to U.S. insulin pump and continuous glucose-monitoring product sales. International sales were up by 14 percent.

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