AskNadia: The History of the Implantable Insulin Pump

Dear Jeff,

 I have had diabetes for 28 years and wore two different insulin pumps for a total of 8 years. I quit the insulin pump because of scarring issues that lead to insulin effectiveness issues. Now after many years, I am starting to suffer from the long-term effects of diabetes. The implantable insulin pump could make a difference in my life.

 This new technology would help me a lot. The FDA should speed up the approval process, and pump manufacturers should put more resources into delivering this technology. For 28 years I have heard the cure is just around the corner. Maximizing profit directs products offered to the market.


Dear Jeff,

Most people that choose insulin pump therapy will say it makes a big difference in their diabetes self-management. The basal, background insulin determined by your healthcare professional combined with insulin blousing during mealtime, plays a significant role in minimizing hypoglycemia episodes. Pumping for eight years tells me that you benefited from being on the insulin pump until you started experiencing scarring issues.

The scarring you mention I am assuming is lipoatrophy;  a loss of fat mass which impairs the insulin absorption. Healthcare professionals recommend rotating injection sites and the NIH reports the newer fast-acting insulins reduce the adverse effects of lipoatrophy.

The History of the Implantable Insulin Pump

Clinical research for the implantable insulin pump started in 1980.

Dr. Christopher Saudek from John Hopkin’s Diabetes Center implanted the first MiniMed implantable insulin pump in 1986. In 1995, the European FDA equivalent known as the CE approved the implantable insulin pump in Europe. By 2000 MiniMed received anther CE approval for their next generation Model 2007-A. In 2007 Medtronic purchased MiniMed and unfortunately stopped the research trials in the United States.

It would appear from a business perspective that, Medtronic decided to focus on the MiniMed domestic and international commercial success of the external insulin pump to recoup their investment, rather than investing more resources in research and development.

How Does it Work?

The implantable insulin pump does not function as the external insulin pump. It is small round disk with a catheter that is surgically implanted so that the insulin is directed to the liver. The pump must be implanted four times a year.

Almost a decade has elapsed since the implantable insulin pump research has been discontinued. In Europe, 450 people are still on the implantable insulin pump, and in the United States, there are five remaining patients of the 100 who initially participated in the clinical trial. The implantable pump is manufactured in the United States and only sold in Europe. The technology is old, but the 455 users refuse to give up their implantable insulin pump because of their superior diabetes self-management outcomes.

If you would like to learn more about a small group of implantable insulin pump advocates, be more active and part of the driving force to further the implantable pump research, reach out to The Implantable Insulin Pump Foundation.



A Miracle Technology for Type 1’s

Skin-related Complications

The Implantable Insulin Pump Foundation


Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professional’s therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.

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About Nadia:

Nadia is a diabetes advocate that was not only born into a family with diabetes but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview, now Diabetes Health magazine.

Nadia has received 19 nominations for her work as a diabetes advocate.
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